£460,000 has been set aside for 2013/14 and the scheme will again be managed by Environment Agency Wales. The fund is open to bids from April 1st and will be looking to support schemes which improve access to our inland waterways. Bids will be welcome from public, private and third sector organisations.
Working closely with its partners, the Welsh Government is encouraging wider public recreational access to our rivers, lakes and reservoirs, as although Wales has significant water resources, many remain under-utilised for public recreation.
The Minister said: “The activities on offer here at Ponsticill are testament to what can be achieved via the Splash grant, getting more people young and old and of all abilities onto the water.
“It is my hope that the success of Splash funding here at Pontsticill and at nearby reservoirs will inspire the development of new access opportunities and generate a boost to local economies.
“I also welcome Dwr Cymru Welsh Water’s work to support these access arrangements. They are an indication of the potential that exists to open up access to reservoirs.”
Splash funding has been allocated to Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority to develop a ‘Passport’ scheme for public access to reservoirs. The Passport scheme enables organised groups in open canoe or kayaks to responsibly access not only Pontsticill reservoir but also Pentwyn, Usk and Beacons reservoirs.
The Passport scheme will initially be a one year pilot scheme which will be available to full members of the South Wales Outdoor Activity Providers Group. The full “Passport” is intended to last a twelve month period from 1st January 2013 to 31st December 2013.
Dwr Cymru Welsh Water’s Managing Director Nigel Annett, said: “Dwr Cymru Welsh Water shares the Welsh Government’s ambition to ensure that the people of Wales are able to safely enjoy the nation’s beautiful rivers, lakes and reservoirs. We are therefore delighted to be able to partner with Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority and the Welsh Government to roll out our initial one year pilot of the Passport scheme as part of Splash.
“This pilot will enable organised groups to obtain passports to access and enjoy our reservoirs at Ponsticill, Pentwyn, Usk and Beacons for activities such as canoeing and kayaking.
“Of course, safety at our reservoirs remains of paramount concern, and we would like to stress that all access to the reservoirs in this pilot must be done by applying for a Passport through Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority.”
Mrs Julie James, Chairman of Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to work with our partners to launch this Splash-funded Passport pilot scheme and help people enjoy the waterways in Bannau Brycheiniog National Park.
“Particular thanks should go to our outgoing Splash Project Officer Gez Richards, whose vision and enthusiasm has driven this project forward, as well as several other Splash initiatives over the years.”
Richard Preece from Environment Agency Wales, said: “What has been achieved through the Splash fund is something worth shouting about and has certainly proved popular with the people of Wales. We have delivered 108 projects, providing greater access to the waterways and coast of Wales for public enjoyment and for recreational pursuits. This has certainly been a team effort and I would like to thank all those who have worked hard to achieve the aims of this meaningful initiative.”
Natural Resources Wales will take on the full functions of Environment Agency Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and Countryside Council for Wales from April 1st this year. Access to water based recreation will be an important part of its work.