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Assembly Washing Away Welsh Water Access 07/11/2006

Ms Burnham, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for North Wales and Sport Spokesperson, warned of the harm the government stance was having on potential tourism, grassroots paddlesports and environmental damage due to unsolicited access to rivers and lakes. Ms Burnham said:

"I wrote to Environment Minister Carwyn Jones this October urging him to support statutory access for members of the public to rivers, lakes and waterways across Wales. Unfortunately it seems the government is happy to turn its back on the idea.

"Establishing and changing rights of access can be tricky, but it appears Mr Jones has written off the Government's very real ability to change existing arrangements outright, and that isn't good enough.

"The First Minister's response to my questions today was little better. By claiming that access rights across Wales are largely down to personal agreement between anglers, landowners and canoeists, the government is ignoring the problems with this system that have long been raised by the Welsh Canoeing Association.

"In his letter, Carwyn Jones stated that the government does not have the legal power to give statutory access rights to individuals. But what he failed to note is that the Assembly government can alter the exemptions listed in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. If the government were to amend what people are allowed to do in or on rivers and lakes it would be a step the right direction.

"As I have said before, Welsh water is an amazing commodity and one that would bring a boost to both local and national tourism and grassroots paddlesports. Ultimately, I would like to see statutory rights of access for everyone as Scotland has. In the meantime, we cannot let the Labour government simply wash access rights away."

Topic: Access to Inland Water; Welsh Canoeing Association.

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