Following the publication of its new ‘arrangement’ for paddling from Glasbury-Hay, the Wye & Usk Foundation (WUF) has offered some additional explanation (see below) and has asked SWOAPG to give the arrangement our “fullest support on the basis that we need to end the conflict and build a way forward across Wales’ rivers.”
Please let me know by Sunday 26 July if you would like to be part of an online Members’ discussion in the next couple of weeks, to help SWOAPG decide whether to:
- actively support the arrangement (e.g. advising our Members to comply, “on the basis that we need to end the conflict and build a way forward”);
- actively oppose the arrangement (e.g. advising our Members to ignore it, to assert our rights and needs as users);
- seek some ‘middle-ground’ (e.g. encouraging our Members to follow the arrangement in the short-term, while making our views clear to WUF and seeking to improve it for the long-term); or
- take no action / not get involved (leaving our Members to ‘fend for themselves’).
The risk if paddlers don’t follow the new ‘arrangement’ is that conflict will continue to grow on the river; and fishery owners could ultimately proceed with their threat of legal action against Powys County Council (who are bound by a legal covenant not to allow canoe launching at Glasbury to interfere with fishing downstream) – which could result in even less paddling being permitted from Glasbury.
On the other hand, by supporting the ‘arrangement’ (which was drawn up without any real collaboration with users), paddlers could be seen as ‘giving-in’ to the demands of fishery owners rather than standing-up for themselves and their rights.
Stephen Marsh-Smith of WUF has told us:
“WUF sees it is key that henceforth canoeists (inc. similar craft) are now able to proceed downstream from Glasbury legally and without conflict. Advantages include potential actions for trespass have been set aside and your insurances will be valid…. but in my opinion the biggest plus is that this is base on which to build on here and elsewhere. Implicit in this is that the rules are adhered to and in this context I should point out that a group arriving at the Bont at say 10.00am, half an hour or more getting ready, passing under the bridge at 10.30 and arriving at Hay by 15.30 will have had 5½ hours on the river: obviously less if you start later.
“This ensures there will be no diminution in the potential number of daily trips albeit they will be more concentred though thankfully to the best part of the day and this is how we give the anglers a chance to fish in peace for other parts of the day.
“Our assessment of the recently commissioned UWAG ( abstraction controls) suggests that abstractions will help to stave off the low flow restriction as the dams will issue extra water when base flows drop. Really dry years like the last two will always present a problem but I guess you are already aware of this.
“We also want to stress that it has always been important to the owners to ensure the benefit of the arrangement is for children, education and CW individuals over commercial interests
“However, the nature of any compromise is that you will have to give a little and moderate your previous freer access. You need owners consent to proceed: now you have it under reasonable conditions and at no cost. So please may we have your fullest support on the basis that we need to end the conflict and build a way forward across Wales’ rivers. As you know this is not the only problem area but it is the first time any progress has been made.”