Thank you for contacting me about public access to water and the “Clear Access, Clear Waters” campaign.
I am enthusiastic about promoting sport and recreation in the countryside, and understand the positive benefits outdoor activities can have both physically and mentally. Local waterways are particularly important in rural and coastal areas like ours, are enthusiastically used by a range of people with differing interests, including pedestrians, cyclists, anglers, paddle craft, and motorboaters, among others. I believe it is essential that all interests work together when considering how the accessibility of our waterways might be improved.
With that in mind, I agree with the view of Ministers that access to unregulated waterways should be achieved through encouraging voluntary access agreements, between riparian landowners and others with an interest in using the waterway, which take into account local circumstances, the rights of other users, as well as protection for wildlife and the environment. I believe that these sensitive issues can best be dealt with at a local level rather than through a one size fits all approach decided in Westminster.
I also fully support my Ministerial colleagues' aim to make this the first generation which leaves the environment in a better state than we found it and I am pleased that over 50 per cent of canals have now been restored, enabling an increasing number of people to enjoy the outdoors and get close to water.
As well as this, since the water industry was privatised, around £25 billion has been invested to reduce pollution from sewage, covering improvements in sewage treatment and in sewer overflows keeping our rivers clean.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.