We took our Sustainable Access Campaign Cymru (SACC) for locally-managed access to land and water to the home of Welsh politics, The National Assembly for Wales on Wednesday this week. Along with our partner organisations, we hosted an exhibition of angling to stress the importance of the £150 million freshwater recreational angling sector to the Welsh economy, and to highlight the risks that proposals for universal access to land and water being discussed by the Minister for Culture and Sport John Griffiths could pose to this sector. He’s been talking about opening up all rivers in Wales to canoeists, which could have disastrous consequences for angling and the many businesses which rely on anglers.
Almost 100 anglers from across Wales were accompanied by rural organisations, riparian owners and landowners at the angling exhibition which filled the Senedd hall much to the delight of visiting Assembly Members. We were joined by legendary former Wales and British Lions player Gareth Edwards – a passionate angler who spent the day meeting fellow anglers and politicians. The event, which received cross party support, was sponsored by a number of Assembly Members.
More than 50 organisations and 2,000 individuals have signed up to support SACC which aims to challenge these proposals before they have a chance to take shape in a green paper that was due to be published in the autumn, but has been delayed. We think that the volume of letters from SACC supporters, and the representations made to Assembly Members by farmers, anglers and wildlife groups has made the government think again about an access free-for-all in Wales. Opposition Assembly Members will be asking the Minister on 20 January why the green paper has not yet come forward.
Since its launch in November 2013, SACC has raised £10,000 in donations from angling clubs and individuals who are concerned about the damage to wildlife habitats and the economic impact on angling, farming and other rural businesses that universal access would cause. The funds will be spent on campaign materials and on legal advice to resist any proposals that could damage the interests of hundreds of angling clubs and fisheries in Wales.
Please sign up on the SACC web site to support this cause – it only takes a minute to add your name and it could save Welsh rivers from an unregulated swarm of canoes. www.accesscymru.org
Many thanks for your support,