Sunday, 21 October 2012

River Access For All campaign launched

A quick re-writing of the currently popular WW2 poster theme serves to emphasise the point that canoeing and kayaking on the River Kennet is not an illegal activity.  If you are concerned that you might be challenged about your right to be paddling on the riverine Kennet, a new campaign has been launched to promote better understanding of the historical basis of all Public Rights of Navigation (PRONs) on inland waterways.

River Access For All has been created by "a group of ordinary canoeists who have formed a company limited by guarantee to promote the view that there is, and always has been, a public right of navigation on our rivers."

The campaign sets out basic historical evidence in support of PRONs, and shows how these have been undermined, leading to a position where

"There are several contradictory versions of the law claimed by the different parties. As a result canoeists and other river users who believe they have an unequivocal right to enjoy our rivers receive harassment and threats from those that believe they have a right to exclude them and keep rivers the exclusive domain of the privileged few.

This lack of clarity over the law means that, whilst those who wish rivers to be their exclusive preserve threaten legal action against those they label offenders, they can't follow through for fear of exposing the weakness of their case. In the absence of such a solution, harassment, verbal abuse and, on occasion, vandalism or violence, become the weapons of choice."

The River Access For All website sets out a basic challenge to those who hold views against a PRON in England and Wales: simply provide the evidence that a PRON does not exist.  Until such time as that proof is delivered, paddle on.