Property holders that hold land adjacent to watercourses, or who have access to water from rivers and streams, should protect their rights as these may be of value particularly as the climate continues to change whether or not fishing rights are involved.
Fishing rights can have a particular value and a recent case on the River Severn has upheld the traditional use of the willow putcher for salmon fishing but there are other rights that one should protect. If your property has a Well it could be important to look after the well and maintain it, make sure it is safe and properly capped as the water from the well can be used for your private use for watering gardens or even horticultural units. They are obviously a dangerous item to have on the land and should be correctly fenced or protected from the potential accident of people falling into them but in particular children. The damming of watercourses is strictly regulated and such use needs to be approved by the Environment Agency and also other statutory bodies that protect rivers such as the Upper Avon Navigation Trust.
Certain other obscure rights could still benefit your property one being ‘Miller’s Rights’. These are ancient rights from the Lord of the Manor whereby the Lord of the Manor could reserve jurisdiction over part of a mill race, mill dam, leat, an area used on adjoining land to increase the flow of water to a mill, or weir. In the same way as fishing rights are often reserved from a property these miller’s rights can be reserved from a Title. Whilst these rights are largely defunct and rarely exercised for the use of a mill, grinding corn for example, and can be considered mostly obsolete they are of interest where a mill house is being renovated and the owner wishes to resurrect the free flow of water from the adjoining land, for example, for small scale electricity generation by a turbine.
QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright have investigated miller’s rights and water rights generally and have obtained planning permission and use for the re-activation of Victorian races (used in the production of pig iron) now available in a property and used for private electricity generation.
If you have them our advice is to protect them as you may need to use them.
If you would like any additional information regarding this article please contact Douglas Godwin, Partner Rural Services on 01386 761176.