Lords consider boaters’ navigation rights

Marine and Coastal Access Bill latest

The RYA have persuaded the Government to consider a number of key proposed amendments to the Marine and Coastal Access Bill that could safeguard navigation around the UK coast.

Gus Lewis, RYA Legal and Government Affairs manager, says: “We have carefully reviewed the proposed Bill and submitted a number of amendments that we believe will better protect the public right of navigation and improve the balance between recreational boaters’ rights and the need to protect the marine environment.

“We have also suggested some probing amendments to establish the Government’s intention or rationale behind particular aspects of the Bill.

“The amendments we have put forward relate to a range of issues within the Bill, from Marine Conversation Zones to Rights of Access.”

Some of the proposed amendments that will now be considered include:

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· The designation of Marine Conservation Zones. The RYA have stressed that all aspects of sustainable development need to be considered when designating Marine Conservation Zones, balancing environmental evidence with navigational, economic and social factors. The RYA also believes that rights of navigation (including considerations of navigational safety) should be expressly included as ‘legitimate uses of the sea’. These changes will ensure that the focus isn’t just from a purely environmental viewpoint but takes in to consideration the rights of boaters.

· Reference to ‘prohibiting or restricting navigation within Marine Conservation Zones’. The RYA’s proposed amendment stresses that if there is sufficient evidence to justify interference with rights of navigation in MCZs then recreational vessels should not be unfairly prejudiced in comparison with other users of the sea.

· Proposals to create a coastal path. Boat parks or storage areas separated from the club house are not expressly excluded from the provisions in the Bill relating to the creation of a coastal path, which could mean that the coastal path could be routed through these areas. The RYA has therefore proposed that land used for, or associated with the use of, sporting facilities should not be subject to the proposed coastal path to ensure these areas remain secure and don’t become a right of way.

“We believe that, if our proposed amendments are adopted in the Bill, the rights of our members and the boating public at large will be better protected,” says Gus.

The Bill and the proposed amendments will now be reviewed in detail by the House of Lords, before the Bill is sent to the House of Commons.



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