Memorandum by the Chairman of the South
West Regional Fisheries Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee
THE POTENTIAL OF INLAND WATERWAYS
The following text reflects the issues which
this Committee believes are important to the future of the UK's
1. Integrated river basin management is
essential in all the work for which the Environment Agency has
responsibility. It is vital that this important pivotal role for
the Environment Agency is to the forefront in the deliberations
of the inquiry. The Agency's holistic management of rivers, including
fisheries, flood defence, water abstraction, land discharge and
recreation is critical to the sustainable management of the whole
2. There is particular concern that little
reference has so far been made to the difference between man-made
canals and naturally occurring rivers. Many of the rivers have
statutory status as either SSSIs or candidate SACs. Development
or regeneration of most of the rivers in the South West as waterways
would be both inappropriate and damaging to the environment. Other
than canals there is only a small amount of navigation in the
region nor is there potential for this.
3. It is important for the inquiry to recognise
that, unlike canals, the majority of rivers are privately owned
often in short fragmented stretches each with an individual owner.
Frequently the ownership of one side is in different hands to
the opposite side.
4. Tourism and particularly angling tourism
is an important part of the rural economy in the South West. Many
tourist orientated enterprises have been built up and depend upon
unrestricted access to a section or sections of river; this is
linked to also being part of the management of that particular
river or section of it.
5. Whilst welcoming the concept of water
transfers there are two important factors which the inquiry should
consider in connection with this issue. These are: (i) the risk
of the spread of fish diseases, and (ii) the effect on migratory
fish in rivers which sustain a run of migratory salmonids.
There would also be an effect on the whole ecology
as a result of different chemical and biological properties of
6. Where it is appropriate to develop or
regenerate a waterway, this would be welcomed in the Region and
the recognition and importance given to waterways is to be commended.
7. The Waterways for Tomorrow document
gives great emphasis to leisure and recreation; angling is of
course one of the most popular recreations. There is potential
for conflict between various recreational users of waterways and
this is not only recognised by the Environment Agency but the
Agency is currently bringing forward policies to offer wider opportunities
for recreational use at the same time avoiding conflict.
8. Sustainable development and partnership
are also important themes in the Waterways for Tomorrow
document. Integrated management such as is currently practiced
by the Environment Agency is the key to this; it is successful
and must be allowed to continue.
The South West RFERAC is a statutory Committee
representing the interests of local landowners and riparian owners,
fisheries, recreation (including angling), conservation and navigation.
Its role is to advise the Environment Agency on its activities
in these areas.