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Access issue raised at recent Conservative Party Conference event

Bruce Buckland, one of our Waterway Volunteers, recently attended the Conservative Party Conference and engaged a number of MP’s on rivers access. In one of the fringe events he managed to question Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the lack of access to UK rivers for the public. Mr Gove’s response acknowledged the access issues, but stressed that his immediate priority was the health of our rivers.

I know that there are slight differences in emphasis between those people who enjoy angling and those who enjoy canoeing when It comes to enjoyment of rivers. My principle concern at the moment, with rivers, is less access than the health of the rivers themselves; so my priority therefore would be restoring them to good health.

– Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Mr Gove went on to acknowledge that Bruce’s question was a good one and he would return to his team to give it more thought.

British Canoeing will hope to follow this up in the near future, to express how canoeists can play an active part in improving the health of our rivers. Thousands of tonnes of plastic and rubbish is removed from beaches and rivers by dedicated paddlesport volunteers, clubs and clean-up actions all over the UK and we are keen to promote more activity in support Mr Gove’s future aims.

British Canoeing is working hard to deliver a clear message to MP’s and will be developing our capability in this area in 2018. If you are interested in being a Waterway Volunteer, to support the work of British Canoeing locally then get in touch at

Watch the Conservative Party Conference fringe event in full here. The access question is raised at around 47 minutes.