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Volume 115: debated on Tuesday 5 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will hold discussions with the Countryside Commission about the impact of the activities of canoeists on the congestion of rivers, the problems of countryside access and the level of damage to river banks; and what consideration he has given to introducing legislation to control the use of canoes;(2) if he will request the Nature Conservancy Council to prepare a report on the activities of canoeists, with particular reference to how rapidly the sport of canoeing is being established and the implications for countryside conservation and wild life; and if he will make a statement.

I am aware of the potential conflict between the interests of canoeists and other water-based activities, particularly angling. Canoe users can cause in some instances damage to river banks. However, I am not satisfied that there is any serious risk to conservation from their activities nationally. I do not therefore see any need to discuss the matter with the Countryside Commission or to ask the Nature Conservancy Council to prepare a specific report since they already work with these canoeist groups as necessary. No legislation to control the use of canoes is contemplated. Disputes between river users are best settled by local negotiation.