A FISHERIES owner has set the cat among the pigeons by proposing to bring permit charges in from Easter for canoeists paddling his stretch of the River Wye between Glasbury and Hay.

Geoff Maynard, who runs his business from Llanthomas, said he has suffered long enough the downturn to his business while the number of canoeists paddling past have increased year on year as tourism on the Welsh border gains momentum.

"A narrow, shallow river housing canoes and angling don't mix," he said.

"I can't use the river for the purpose which I bought it for, it's obvious that I no longer have a fishery."

He states that the relevant authorities haven't any interest in enforcing the law which in his opinion and that of his lawyers states that there is no public right of way on the section of the river above Hay bridge.

"I've spent seven years trying to control the traffic on the Wye," Mr Maynard said. "Most daylight hours for the nine months of the year the river can't be used to fish."

A meeting convened in Hay by Powys County Council to review the arrangements for launching canoes above the bridge at Glasbury saw Mr Maynard announce his intention to charge paddlers passing through his fishery with effect from April 2.

Canoe Wales believes that there is a Public Right of Navigation on this stretch of the Wye and that Mr Maynard has no right to impose such a charge. However, this has not been confirmed in law.

If the situation remains unresolved then organisations, groups and individuals using the river will need to decide whether to pay Mr Maynard's charge if using his stretch of river.

"I have no intention of charging local people," Mr Maynard confirmed, "but 85% of the traffic on the Wye is day tripping canoe-hire customers paying around £50 a trip, destroying the ambience and ecology of the River and turning it into a theme park.

"My aim is to raise awareness so that the Authorities take notice and this is the only way to bring it to their attention. The other course of action would be to close the river which would be extreme."