About Clear Access Clear Waters campaign

What is Clear Access Clear Waters?

Clear Access Clear Waters is a campaign for fair, shared and sustainable open access on water for all. It’s aim is not only to seek greater public access to water for recreation, but also to secure the protection of our natural environment.

  • Being in, on or alongside water is proven to be great for mental and physical wellbeing. Countless studies have demonstrated the great restorative effects of immersion in nature. Quite simply, access to nature can make us a healthier and happier society as a whole.
  • More than 2.1 million adults and children go paddling at least once a year, and it’s growing in popularity among all ages and abilities. Estimates suggest that similar numbers now enjoy outdoor swimming in lakes and rivers all across the UK.
  • Yet our access to places to paddle and swim has never been worse. Less than 4% of rivers across England and Wales have a clear right of access, meaning that the great majority of the public are at very real risk of confrontation and challenge each time they take to the water for enjoyment.
  • This is because access to those waterways has been disputed for more than 60 years and the situation is getting worse.

Now, more than ever, we all need access to our natural spaces, our parks and rivers, mountains and lakes. Whether it is for health, for fitness, social time, family time, or to take action to protect the environment access to green and blue spaces for recreation is/will be crucial in helping us build back a healthier, more resilient society post Covid-19.

People protect what they love, but they only love what they know. The natural world is fragile and needs our help to protect. If we are to be the first generation to hand over our environment in a better state than it was found, then our waterways must not remain shut off to all but a few.

The Clear Access Clear Waters campaign is asking for clarity of rights over access for this generation and future generations to come. The case for fair, shared, sustainable open access on water in England and Wales has never been greater.

Why now?

2020 has brought into sharp focus just how important it is for the public to have easy access to green and blue space on their doorstep.

During lockdown, restrictions to our lives inhibited the freedom to participate in the activities that we normally take for granted. We began to explore our local areas in new ways, and subsequently tens of thousands more people began taking to the water for the first time.

Yet clarity over our right to access the rivers and lakes that run through towns and cities all across the land, still leaves the majority of us having to travel miles out of our way to places we know we will be free from challenge or threat. This is entirely unsustainable. The status quo has to change.

How can you help?

Infographic. 70,671km inland water resource but fewer than 4% have clear or uncontested right to paddle.
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