Since the EU Referendum over a year ago the issue of public subsidies to support our countryside have been under much discussion. Following on from proposals from access groups (including Ramblers and Open Spaces Society) and conservation charities (for example WWF, Wildlife Trusts and National Trust), British Canoeing is also proposing ideas for change.
British Canoeing believes post-Brexit subsidies should recognise the need for public money to bring improved public benefits.
Our core proposals are to find ways to use rural policy and funding to help deliver improved access for canoeing. Specifically we would call for the following:
Ensure canoeists can, wherever possible, pass along rivers which flow through land in receipt of public subsidies.
Creating new subsidies to incentivise farmers and other land managers to provide new or improved access to and along rivers, lakes or other waters.
Using public subsidy and grants to help ensure improved access encourages new revenue for land-owners, helping supports traditional farming, conservation and communities.
Alongside the ideas and proposals put forward regarding access and conservation is a farming and rural community nervous of the changes to come. Many of the consequences could be negative for our countryside, the farmed-environment and those who rely upon this land for their livelihoods. We hope to be able to present these plans to farming representatives, to help build a positive partnership to inspire change that works for all. The challenge for Government will be to balance proposals in a way that is cost effective, supports our access to and protect of the environment, and supports rural economies. We believe this will be easier to achieve if the various sectors involved can work together on strong proposals to help inform Government.
We therefore also recommend:
Increased partnership working between recreational and sporting bodies which use the natural environment.
Bringing improved engagement between different interests in the countryside together. Too often parties involved in conservation, recreation, farming and land-management find themselves in conflict with each other - rather than recognising the great potential for improved cooperation leading to benefits for all.
Matching our desire for improved access (especially the recognition of access rights) with a pragmatic approach to our responsibilities. Working with farmers, conservationists and other water users is essential to help us all build a strong, vibrant, sustainable approach to countryside management for all to enjoy.
To do the aims above we are:
Engaging with Government and statutory bodies across the UK in cooperation with our partners in the sports and recreation community.
Building upon our links with other outdoor, recreational and sporting organisations, especially through our membership of Sport & Recreation Alliance to ensure an effective and stronger voice rather than working in isolation.
Continuing to build our links with conservation, farming and countryside organisations to develop solutions that work for all.
Working with the paddling community themselves to help them raise awareness of these issues at a local, regional and national level.
You can read more about the background to the changes to agricultural and other subsidies in the attachment below, along with a more detailed description of both what we’d like to see and how we’ll be working to try and make that happen.