Mr. W.G. Davies: Chairman. 3 Blanche Street,
E mail:W.GARY.DAVIES@sky.com Dowlais,
Ms Lesley Griffiths AM. AC. Environment Secretary.
Mr Carwyn Jones AM. AC First Minister
Mr Andrew R T Davies AM. Leader Welsh Conservatives.
Ms Leanne Wood AM. Leader Plaid Cymru.
Ms Kirsty Williams AM. AC. Leader Welsh Lib Dems.
Mr Niel Hamilton AM. Leader UKIP
Ms Dawn Bowden AM.
Ms Janet Finch Saunders AM.
Dear Ms Griffiths,
Having read through the consultation document on ACCESS I feel the need to contact you with my particular interest in the property rights of the owners of inland water.
I have written to you in the past about this subject so I see no point of repeating myself on principles, but to address a different but related matter.
I presume you are aware that Ms Jane Davidson put in being the Splash fund which in total amounted to £2.5 million, the aim of which was to enable the paddlers and anglers to negotiate an ACCESS agreement across Wales. This started well with a trusted person as main facilitator (Andy Schofield) of Natural Resources Wales. Unfortunately he left and the facilitator went under the auspices of Matt Strickland (also of NRW) and it seemed he was assisted by an officer of Canoe Wales.
On the face of things it would appear that the fund was administered fairly, apart from the fact that NO negotiations ever took place, At the end of the life of the fund, Matt Strickland finished with the NRW as did the Canoe Wales officer leave his post?
A short while afterwards, I requested freedom of information on the Splash Fund. The report was glowing (naturally) until the report was read and made suitable for examination. Also I obtained a document from Afonydd Cymru which outlined the method of discussion with round table participants. The result in my opinion indicates that there are some contentious issues regarding the way the fund was used.
I have read the full report and the only mention of access to rivers, access being either the provision of an access and egress point with permission , was by the Wye Usk Foundation. I cannot find any evidence of any negotiations over access (the ostensible purpose of the Fund in the first place), but I found many thousands of pounds for the purchase of BOATS, BOAT TRAILERS, ERECTION OF SLIP WAYS IN THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT, WEEDING A LAKE. The list goes on. (Copy available)
On this basis why are your Civil Servants still bending over backwards to insist that there is a need for more access of all kinds needed in Wales.
This leads me onto the fact that Welsh Government requested/demanded that Dwr Cymru made their reservoirs available to paddlers. That company complied with this and provided launching points on certain reservoirs (Pontsticill was one) but with the provision that the paddlers paid a fee which could be had from Brecon Beacons National Park. I was privy to the fact that one year Dwr Cymru was paid £1500, this by adventure groups. No private group/person was recorded using the facility. The question. “Why no usage by canoes”, was put to the canoe executive at the Cardiff workshop. His response was, “People will not use the reservoirs because of the restrictions placed on them”. What a shame considering other users must follow the rules laid down (example – yacht club) by the company, and of course pay for the privilege.
At no point since 2010 has the Assembly followed through on the report that passed that it carried out certain measures to improve access. It now transpires that it is felt that the taking of property rights from ordinary people ie Fishing Rights is the way to go. At no time has there been any analysis or constructive dialogue with the owners and it appears that the taking of property rights something akin to what has happened in third world countries is now going to be a policy in Wales. Thousands of people(of all ages) did not invest their money, time and labour; for government to take and give away (to approx 1200 Welsh members plus some 2000 affiliated members of Canoe Wales) their rights.
Please note my Association MERTHYR TYDFIL AA (membership of approx 800 members – junior and senior) owns some 80 acres of land and 20 miles of salmon, trout and coarse fishing rights and freely gives access (after 50 years of hard work – also we upgraded approx 2 km of the Taff Trail) by revocable invitation to the public individually, so long as they individually respect our nature reserves. As for access we look for the common courtesy to be asked to use our facilities, in other words an access AGREEMENT which has been sought BY Anglers/Owners and Welsh Government since the inquiry in 2009/2010. Unfortunately one side would NOT talk.
There have been a couple of agreements (Coleg Gwent) and from information received there was a possibility for more if groups had not been coerced not to take part due to loss of insurance.
I was fortunate to attend every session and I can recall one of the committee stating to canoe Wales that they wanted everything and all for NOTHING.”
Which is entirely different when considered that anglers pay for rent/lease/purchase and maintenance of banks and footpaths?
I was also privileged to receive an embargoed copy of the 2009/10 inquiry findings.
Welsh Government is prepared to fund the paddling group despite the fact that there are in excess of 1.2 million?? (So we are told UK wide). With that number surely a modest amount would suffice to restrict the public monies given on an annual basis (£200k minimum pa to canoe Wales). I also find it strange that there are NO magazines available to paddlers ( I have trolled magazine shelves for months and not found any) whereas angling has a plethora to choose from, as do all other sporting activities,, which indicates a good profit to be made in the trade. Why not canoes? Perhaps they cannot afford the purchase price.
How unfair that Wales is to be turned into a “COLLECTIVE THEME PARK”, and the rights of a sizeable section of the Welsh electorate in every part of Wales trampled upon; in the name of what? Whatever it is, it’s oppressive and not worthy of a Labour administration.
W G Davies (Gary)
Angling Cymru Letter to Welsh Assembly Government
I am concerned as Chairman of Angling Cymru about information now coming to light regarding the Splash Funding for Access to Inland Water set up by Jane Davidson when she was Environment Minister until 2011.
I sat on the Round Table discussion Group that was set up, and the setting up of the splash fund was billed as a way of getting voluntary access agreements on Inland water. At that time, and it still is, there is only a one way street in respect of access agreements in that riparian and fishery owners are struggling to find any group that respects the need for access to be shared.
My concern in looking at published figures is that other than exemplar agreements such as the Wye Usk and some on inland lakes and reservoirs the funding seems to have been spent on many questionable projects that had no bearing on the original setting up of the fund.
Tony Rees MBE
Chairman Angling Cymru
Angling Trust and Fish Legal Response to the Proposals