New ‘Enjoying Water’ plan unveiled

The Environment Agency in the South West is encouraging organizations it works with to help people to take to the waters with the launch of a new water recreation strategy called ‘Enjoying Water.’

The new strategy comes as result of a groundbreaking study in the region aimed at putting the environment at the heart of future plans to develop water related sport and recreation across England and Wales. Going fishing, sailing, canoeing, gorge walking or simply paddling with the children are all included in the strategy, which promotes water recreation as a great way of getting fit while enjoying some amazing outdoor scenery.

‘Enjoying Water’ provides planning advice to local authorities, enabling them to identify suitable areas that are currently under-utilised when planning any recreational facilities. The Environment Agency is confident the new strategy will provide more opportunities for everyone to experience a wide variety of water activities, leading to a healthier lifestyle and a healthier environment.

‘Enjoying Water’ will be officially unveiled on February 5, 2009 by Minister for the Natural and Marine Environment, Wildlife and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, Lord Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency and Richard Cresswell, Regional Director of the Environment Agency in the South West.

The launch will take place at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, Osprey Quay, Portland, Dorset at 10.00am. Special guests include Sarah Ayton OBE, who captained the Yngling team (known as three blondes in a boat) to win gold at Beijing.

‘Many of us spend our leisure time either in, on or around the sea, rivers, lakes and waterways which is why the government is pioneering legislation like the Marine and Coastal Access Bill and supporting improvements to the environment and better access that will benefit everyone. I hope this strategy will help people who provide and enjoy water-based sports and recreation make the most of what the South West has to offer while protecting the environment and our natural heritage,’ said Huw Irranca-Davies.

The South West is a top holiday destination, with 26 million tourists flocking to the region every year lured by the attraction of a plethora of water related activities. Water based sport and recreation is particularly important in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, where they generate in the region of £300 million each year.Tourism is the lifeblood of the regional economy, with visitors spending up to £8 billion a year and supporting 300,000 jobs. But it is not just holidaymakers who wish to take to the water. In the South West most people live within 20 minutes of the coast or inland waterways. Nearly 40 per cent of adults spend some of their leisure time enjoying recreation on or by the water. However, the majority of inland waters are yet to fulfill their potential which in turn could relieve pressure on intensively used estuary and coastal locations. 

‘As well as being responsible for protecting and improving the water environment, we have a duty to promote water related recreation on or near inland and coastal waters.  We are pleased to have led on the development of this strategy and look forward to working alongside many others to implement it,’ added Environment Agency Regional Director in the South West, Richard Cresswell.                       

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