Navigation on a river is passing along the waterway (in either direction), usually in a boat.
It is different to accessing a river, which is crossing land to reach the water.
Unfortunately 'access' is used to refer to both.
What is the issue?In England and Wales it has been generally believed that the owners of the land next to a river or lake have the right to prevent any use of the water without their permission, and that if anyone does use the water without permission, it is trespass, and those responsible can be taken to court for damages.
This of course, does not apply where there is a legal right of Navigation. This is only clear for 4% of inland waterways in England and Wales.
More recently evidence has been presented that historically use of rivers for navigation by the public was not disputed (it was a common right) and that right still exists.
What is my interest?
I paddle canoes so have an interest in being able to use waterways for that purpose. I believe that water sports contribute to keeping people fit and active, and enable people to gain an appreciation of our environment by getting them out in it.
Any activity in a shared environment of course has to take into account the needs of other users and the protection of the environment itself.
I also beleive that in the past, rivers were open to the public to pass along, and until relatively recently, there was not a legal issue over this. I hope to provide people with more information about both side of the debate.