Glasbury-Hay Update: Evidence needed from Providers

We have received the message below from Powys County Council – which confirms what we already knew about the process that the Council must go through before it is able to permit the re-launch of canoeing at Glasbury.

The Council is asking for ideas or evidence that would help in informing the Habitat Regulations Assessment, so to this end we should be grateful if SWOAPG Members or other interested parties could send ASAP to any of the following that we could collate and submit to the Council:

  • Evidence that canoeing from Glasbury-Hay does not cause environmental damage, even in low water conditions. This might, for example, include photographs (ideally time- and location-stamped) showing the existence of deep water channels in the 2018 drought;
  • Evidence that Providers are able to ensure compliance by paddlers with any restrictions imposed to protect the environment. This might, for example, include documentary or video evidence of briefings or training that Providers offer to staff or clients to ensure that they understand and keep away from the sensitive areas of the river;
  • Evidence from other rivers where paddlesport and natural species co-exist without adverse impact. This might, for example, include popular paddling rivers in other countries, if any of you are aware of any environmental evidence relating to these (or can suggest where Powys CC might be able to find such evidence); and
  • Any other evidence, ideas or suggestions for how we can persuade the Council that we could collectively minimise the environmental impact of canoeing on the river (including, perhaps, suggestions for appropriate voluntary restrictions in our operations). SWOAPG will, for example, be sharing our experience of operating the Waterfall Country gorge-walking concordat as an illustration of how Providers are able collectively to organise themselves and operate within restrictions designed to minimise their adverse impact on both the environment and local communities.

Message from Sian Barnes, Powys County Council Professional Lead for Countryside Access and Recreation

“Further to [our previous message], I am writing to update you about canoe launching at Upper Glas-y-Bont common. First, Natural Resources Wales have confirmed that we are able to share the advice document that they provided, as it may assist you in understanding the next steps. It is attached, with some information redacted for data protection reasons.

“There have been questions about whether this advice relates to all canoe launching, or only to commercial operators; I have clarified this with Natural Resources Wales and the situation is as follows.

“To allow canoe launching from Upper Glas-y-Bont, we must satisfy the environmental and legislative requirements for both the designation as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and as an SAC (Special Area of Conservation.) As the advice was issued under section 28I of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, it is specific to the SSSI. When it comes to the Habitat Regulations Assessment, Natural Resources Wales have clarified that whilst their section 28I advice can be used to inform that process, it is for the Council look at the mitigation that can be put in place to determine no adverse impact on the SAC. As such, all types of canoe use – individual, educational, not for profit / charitable and commercial use – need to be considered as part of the Habitat Regulations Assessment. As stated in the Natural Resources Wales advice, we must carry out the Habitat Regulations Assessment before any canoe launching recommences.”

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