Following the introduction on 1 April by Geoff Maynard of a ‘paddle permit’ (whereby he is attempting to levy a fee of £3 for paddlers passing through his fishery at Llowes, between Glasbury and Hay), we advised providers to make their own decision whether to comply with his scheme, to avoid this stretch of river altogether, or to accept the risk of confrontation (in which case we recommended checking that your legal expenses insurance cover you against accusations of trespass). At our EGM on 19th April, those present agreed unanimously that it would set an exceedingly unhelpful precedent for anyone to pay Mr Maynard for the privilege of passing through his property on the river – and asked us to liaise with the paddlesport National Governing Bodies to attmpt to resolve the situation.
Since then, we are aware that Mr Maynard has been photographing groups travelling through his fishery and has sent a bill to one of our members for '100 boats passing through during April' (with a threat to increase the fee to £20 per boat if not paid within 14 days!).
In the meantime, members of the British Canoeing Access Advisory Group have reviewed the historical evidence of navigation on the Upper Wye. Their research (including some newly-discovered evidence, published at http://www.riveraccessforall.co.uk/news.php#wye) suggests that a Public Right of Navigation (PRN) may well exist on the Wye upstream of Hay. Canoe Wales has since written to Powys County Council, Natural Resources Wales, the Welsh Government and the Environment Agency asking them to acknowledge this PRN and to clarify who has responsibility for managing it. The Environment Agency and Powys CC have both replied that navigation upstream of Hay is not their responsibility – although Powys CC stated that it has "been asked to consider long term management of commercial use of the river for canoeing " (to which we would expect SWOAPG to be invited to contribute). The Welsh Government and NRW are yet to respond.
We have also ascertained that Mr Maynard is not the riparian landowner (he owns only the fishing rights) and that the landowner does not support his actions. In the light of this, we have written to ask him to stop demanding fees from our Members – which he has politely declined to do. We await to see whether he follows-up with further action and in the meantime our advice remains unchanged from the first paragraph above.
We will keep Members informed of any future developments.
South Wales Outdoor Activity Providers Group