Ministers praise canoeing initiative

TWO Government ministers had a splashing time in the river yesterday as they backed an initiative to allow canoeists greater access to waterways.Richard Caborn and Barry Gardiner joined youngsters on the River Waveney to promote a project to persuade riverside landowners to offer access to the bank, which would create more opportunities for people to take up canoeing.

TWO Government ministers had a splashing time in the river yesterday as they backed an initiative to allow canoeists greater access to waterways.

Richard Caborn and Barry Gardiner joined youngsters on the River Waveney to promote a project to persuade riverside landowners to offer access to the bank, which would create more opportunities for people to take up canoeing.

The pilot scheme won praise from the government ministers for showing how voluntary access agreements could work.

The trial introduced access points along the river in Suffolk and Norfolk, allowing canoeists to get to the water at more than a dozen sites between Brockdish, west of Harleston, and Ellingham, east of Bungay.


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Speaking at the event, Mr Caborn, minister for sport, said the pilot scheme could encourage more people to get exercise.

“We are trying to get more people active and canoeing is part of that,” he said. “But it's also important in providing young people with a chance to let off steam.”

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He added that the opportunities offered by canoeing could, as a result, have major benefits to the health service and in keeping young people out of trouble.

Four schemes were set up to find out whether proposed voluntary access agreements between canoeists and landowners would work.

The Environment Agency is promoting the approach as the best way to expand canoeing and similar sports as part of a two-year study.

Mr Gardiner, minister for biodiversity, landscape and rural affairs, praised the spirit of co-operation between the Environment Agency, local canoeing enthusiasts and landowners in making the trial scheme successful.

Both ministers had earlier taken up oars in a kayak to paddle up and down a stretch of the River Waveney at Bungay's Riverside Centre.

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