Powys County Council has just issued the following update, The newly-formed SWOAPG ‘Wye Working Group’ will be considering the implications, but please feel free to let us know your thoughts…
“I am writing to update you about the progress of the Habitat Regulations Assessment for canoe launching from Upper Glas-y-Bont common. Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in writing to you. This is partly because we have needed to carry out detailed preparatory work for the assessment, to make sure that it is based on evidence and mitigation that is robust.
“It is also because I have needed to give attention to several problems that have arisen over the summer, which pose a risk of serious injury to the public and so have needed urgent action. Not least of these is concrete debris that has been falling from the underside of Glasbury bridge. You may have seen the temporary barriers that have been put under several of the arches, with warning signage; remedial work is due to start in the next few weeks.
“We do understand the importance of resuming canoe launching to you all; a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to move arrangements forward in a way that is sustainable and that can be supported by all stakeholders. By way of an update on progress:
- “Funding for the work is being secured. This has been a difficult area and has taken more time that we had hoped, due to the challenging budget position that the Council faces. As you may already know, we do need to engage an external specialist in carrying out Habitat Regulations Assessments, in view of the need to carry out a large task in a short timescale and to give a level of independence to the assessment. The costs of this will be significant and cannot be met from normal operating budgets. We have been exploring avenues of funding and remain committed to taking this forward. The need for the work has been escalated to a higher level in the Council for awareness and approval.
- “In relation to the impacts of launching at low water levels, a key area is the risk of boats ‘grounding out’ in sensitive locations. Identifying where those locations are and the river levels at which this becomes a problem is now needed, to pinpoint appropriate measures at the right times. Flexibility will be needed to adapt this to a changeable environment e.g. through annual survey and sharing of information.
- “Work is under way by stakeholders to form a group to manage and monitor canoe launching from the common onto of this section of the river, based on other models of this type e.g. the Sychryd Gorge Concordat. We believe this approach to have broad support in principle, subject to further work to define the representation on the group and its responsibilities. We are very appreciative of the time and constructive discussions that have already happened. This allows us to move forward with the formal assessment, because it provides a realistic and resourced way to achieve management in the longer term.
- “We have submitted and received responses to detailed scoping questions from Natural Resources Wales. This will help us to target the content of the assessment appropriately, to avoid spending time on areas that are not relevant.
“This is the basis of arrangements that will be in place for many years, we hope. We will need to review the Habitat Regulations Assessment every few years, in line with the periodic review of the Natural Resources Wales consent. That will include assessing whether the mitigation measures put in place now are effective, so we do need to spend time now making sure that the proposals are robust and workable. I will let you know as soon as we have been able to appoint a specialist; thank you for your patience, support and contributions to date and please continue to send ideas and thoughts on this.”