Policy – Environmental

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Hexham Canoe Club – Tyne Tour

Environmental Policy

Date Written:             September 2022 (updated November 2022)

Date to Reviewed:    September 2023

Note: the term Paddlers refers to Canoeists and Kayakers and includes Stand Up Paddleboarders.

British Canoeing

  1. Access and Environment – Good Practice

https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/go-canoeing/access-and-environment/environment-good-practice

British Canoeing is committed to a sustainable future, reducing our impact on the environment and taking action to change behaviours which contribute to climate change. “If working apart we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet, surely working together we are powerful enough to save it.”

  1. The Paddler’s Code – Respect Protect  Enjoy                         (Launched October 2022)

https://paddlerscode.info/ 

Following the huge growth in paddlesports and with millions of people taking to the water every year, British Canoeing has developed The Paddlers’ Code to share guidance on how to enjoy our beautiful waterways responsibly.

The code has been developed with Natural England, reflecting their work with the Countryside Code, and sets out the sort of things paddlers do to protect our environment.

It has also been written in partnership with paddlers and a wide range of stakeholders who it is hoped will adopt the code themselves.

The Paddlers’ Code is a simple set of good practice guidelines that British Canoeing hope people will share and use every time they go out paddling. It describes the positive impact we make as a community to paddle responsibly.

A Mass Participation event

It is important to note that the Tyne Tour is a mass participation event and as such our ‘Environmental Footprint’ on this weekend is substantial and is greatly magnified as compared with any other weekend here in the River Tyne in the Hexham area.

 

International Canoe Federation (ICF) Environmental Policy

https://www.canoeicf.com/sites/default/files/icf_environmental_policy.pdf

Particularly…

Appendix 1 (amended for Tyne Tour)

You, your craft and the environment:

Paddlers share the outdoors with other people who earn their living from it or who live there or who enjoy it in other ways, as well as the diverse wildlife. Canoeists and kayakers take very seriously environmental concerns.

As Paddlers even though the craft is environmentally benign you also need to be aware that whilst you might visit a place only occasionally and feel that you cause no harm, the landowner and the natural environment might have to cope with the cumulative effects of many people.  Acting with awareness and common sense underpins responsible behaviour. It is important to note that the Tyne Tour is a mass participation event and as such our ‘Environmental Footprint’ on this weekend is substantial and is greatly magnified as compared with any other weekend in the Hexham area.

Take responsibility for your actions The outdoors is a fantastic place for sport and recreation, but it is also a natural environment which needs to be treated with respect. Therefore:

  • Be aware of information/ hazards for your chosen journey and ensure you are confident in the ability of your party to cope with the conditions expected.
  • Take account of water levels and floes as well as the weather conditions.
  • Ensure your equipment is in good condition. Use and wear it correctly.
  • It is strongly recommended to take advantage of advice offered by the Tyne Tour event organisers.
  • Be aware of impacts on your health such as water quality and safety information.
  • Use the designated and identified access and egress points.
  • It is your responsibility whether to go on the water or not.
  • Report pollution, damage and incidents to the relevant authorities.

Consideration for others…

Paddlers meet a variety of land and water users and activities on their journeys. Common sense, polite behaviour and conversations can help to promote mutual understanding. Therefore, be aware and take reasonable steps to take account of the interests of others who enjoy the river.

On land…

  • To protect our waterways from invasive species, all kit should be washed and dried at source. To protect your own waterways all kit should be washed and dried before returning home.
  • Do not enter private gardens.
  • Change discreetly. Use public facilities where possible.
  • Drive sensibly at all times.
  • Car parking – use identified parking areas or use the shuttle buses provided, do not obstruct roads or entrances to buildings or farm property.
  • Ensure your kit does not cause an obstruction when unloading.
  • Leave gates positioned and property as you find them
  • Avoid damage to fences and walls

On Water…

  • Respect and do not obstruct other water users.
  • Keep a look out. Be aware of other Paddlers.
  • Keep a look out for wild animals/birds etc who may be disturbed by your presence –you may disrupt their feeding or cause them stress. Keep voices at a reasonable level.
  • Keep the numbers in your party consistent with safety, the nature of the stretch of river and the impact on your surroundings.
  • When offering assistance to those in need, on or off the water, do not put yourself or fellow canoeists at risk.
  • Show consideration to Tyne Tour participants and organisers.

The Tyne Tour event

The Tyne tour is hosted at Hexham in Northumberland by Hexham Canoe Club over the course of the first week in November. The event uses the stretch of the River Tyne renowned for its outstanding beauty, running down from the small village of Barrasford then on down through Warden Gorge, finally finishing in the market town of Hexham. We also use the South Tyne section from Haydon Bridge to Hexham and The River Tyne from Hexham to Corbridge.

We are committed to protecting this beautiful river and it’s wildlife and minimising our environmental impact.

Participants are organised through specific access and egress point on river sections.

 

Watersmeet SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest)

This is the listing for the Watersmeet SSSI:

https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/SiteDetail.aspx?SiteCode=S1003921&SiteName=&countyCode=32&responsiblePerson=&SeaArea=&IFCAArea= 

Watersmeet SSSI starts river left at the top of Warden Gorge (level with the chicken chute) and reaches downstream beyond the A69.

https://magic.defra.gov.uk/MagicMap.aspx?startTopic=Designations&activelayer=sssiIndex&query=HYPERLINK%3D%271003921%27

The relevant parts of the SSSI designation are:

It is “of particular interest for its invertebrate fauna,” specifically “the community of beetles adapted to life on the alluvium and unstable sand riverbanks”. Alluvium being the deposit left by flood water.

“A periodically flooded riverside rock outcrop supports an unusual ground flora assemblage beneath a variety of willow shrubs” is most probably a reference to the area around rescue rock.

 

The Tyne Tour website and pre-event participant information states…

‘It is essential that people should NOT attempt to portage Warden Gorge. (This is a site of special scientific interest as well as being private property)’.

 

It is IMPORTANT that great care be taken to avoid the area around rescue rock where:

‘a periodically flooded riverside rock outcrop supports an unusual ground flora assemblage beneath a variety of willow shrubs’.

 

Fish Passes

Section 12 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975

Section 12 of SAFFA 1975 relates to passage of salmon and trout through fish passes or free gaps on weirs and obstructions. It recognises the importance of protecting fish at not just a vulnerable point in their migration but also the fact that these fish are also more susceptible to stress due to physiological changes they have gone through whilst migrating from the marine to freshwater environment. Regarding the specifics of fish passes, free gaps or easements they all have the same purpose – to help migrating fish pass over an obstruction that is man-made and that would otherwise create difficulties.

 

It’s an offence under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 Section 12(1)(d):

(If any person) …places any obstruction, Uses any contrivance or does any act whereby salmon or trout are in any way liable to be scared, hindered or prevented from passing through a fish pass.

Summary only. The standard criminal and offence specific responses are:

  • warning
  • formal caution
  • prosecution

 

Hexham Weir

Do not pass over any part of Hexham Weir, it should be considered Dangerous.

  1. The weir is in a state of early decay, there is a large scour hole in one part of the weir which is undercutting the main weir face.
  2. There is a variety of debris under the water including bolts and metal rods coming of the weir structure.
  • At many water levels the tow back is retentive and extends significantly downstream and is ‘blocked in’ by the weir structure.
  1. At many levels the weir is LETHAL.

The Fish Pass

The Fish Pass is a ‘dog-leg’ with Larinier baffles embedded into the Fish Pass, just below the surface to assist fish climbing the weir. Anybody capsizing in this will come into contact with these ‘stainless-steel baffles’ whilst being flushed down the fish pass and as such it should be considered dangerous. The Environment Agency have stated that they will prosecute anyone seen to be using the fish pass (Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 Sec 12 (Section 12(1)(d)).

 

Chollerford Weir

This is usually ‘shot’ on-sight by paddlers, depending upon water levels.

The ‘river left’ of the weir, which is also ‘river left’ of the fish pass is usually taken by paddlers, this obviously depends on conditions and paddlers need to make their own risk assessment of this.

At higher water levels the weir come become retentive and requires the judgement call of more experienced paddlers.

 

The Fish Pass

The Fish Pass has Larinier baffles embedded into the Fish Pass, just below the surface to assist fish climbing the weir. Anybody capsizing in this will come into contact with these ‘stainless-steel baffles’ whilst being flushed down the fish pass and as such it should be considered dangerous. The Environment Agency have stated that they will prosecute anyone seen to be using the fish pass (Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 Sec 12 (Section 12(1)(d)).

 

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