Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Wednesday, 15 April 2009 15:52 UK

AMs call to end river 'confusion'

A long-standing row between fishermen and canoeists has intensified

Wales needs a new law to give more equal access to rivers, according to Welsh assembly members.

The assembly petitions committee say the position now is confusing and unworkable and can lead to disputes between anglers and canoeists.

There has been a call from canoeists in Wales who want changes to make clear who has rights of access.

AMs want a more wide-ranging inquiry which could result in a new law and mandatory code.

The rivers of Wales are described as a natural gift for people to use, but there should be better rights of access.

Val Lloyd, AM, chair of the assembly petitions' committee said: "Access should not be based on the vagaries of permissions bestowed or ability to pay, but on the fundamentals of equity and social justice.

'Clear balance of rights'

"We believe there should be the right of non-motorised access to inland water in Wales as there is in Scotland."

The committee's report comes in response to a petition received from the Welsh canoeing association.

The canoeists want public access rights along inland water in Wales clarified.

At the moment the situation is confusing and there can be bitter disputes between anglers and canoeists. AMs said changes in Scotland provided a model.

"We believe that the clear balance of rights in Scotland has inherently moved the access debate forward," said Val Lloyd.

The AMs recommend a wide-ranging inquiry by an assembly scrutiny committee.

A new law may follow along with a legally-binding code of conduct.

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