Middle Level Bill

A

BILL

[AS AMENDED IN COMMITTEE]

To amend and update the powers of the Middle Level Commissioners to regulate
navigation on the Middle Level of the Fens in the city of Peterborough and the counties
of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk; to make further provision as to the regulation of
navigation on those waterways; to make other provision as to the Commissioners; and
for connected purposes.

WHEREAS—


(1) An Act of Parliament passed in the fiftieth year of the reign of his Majesty
King George the Third, entitled “An Act for improving the Drainage of certain
Lands within the North and South-west Parts of the Middle Level, Part of
the Great Level of the Fens commonly called Bedford Level” established a
5body of Commissioners (“the Middle Level Drainage Commissioners”) with
power and jurisdiction to improve the drainage of the rivers, drains, lands and
grounds described in that Act:

(2) The functions of the Middle Level Drainage Commissioners were amended
by an Act of Parliament passed in the seventh and eighth year of the reign
10of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, entitled “An Act for improving the Drainage
and Navigation of the Middle Level of the Fens”, and by the Middle Level
Drainage Amendment Act 1848:

(3) The Middle Level Act 1862 reconstituted the Middle Level Drainage
Commissioners as commissioners of drainage and navigation, to be known as
15the Middle Level Commissioners, and transferred to them various functions
relating to navigation in the waterways of the Middle Level to the Middle
Level Drainage Commissioners:

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(4) Further amendments to the functions of the Middle Level Commissioners
were made by the Middle Level Act 1867 and the Middle Level Act 1874:

(5) It is is expedient that provision should now be made for the Middle Level
Commissioners’ powers to regulate navigation to be updated:

(6) 5It is expedient for further powers to be conferred on the Middle Level
Commissioners to regulate other activities affecting the use of the waterways
for navigation:

(7) It is expedient that the Middle Level Commissioners should be empowered to
levy charges in respect of vessels using the waterways:

(8) 10It is expedient that the Middle Level Commissioners should be empowered
to make provision requiring the registration of vessels using the waterways:

(9) It is expedient that revised provision should be made in relation to the auditing
of the Middle Level Commissioners’ accounts:

(10) It is expedient that the other provisions contained in this Act should be enacted:

(11) 15The objects of this Act cannot be attained without the authority of Parliament:

May it therefore please your Majesty that it may be enacted, and be it enacted, by the
Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords
Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by
the authority of the same, as follows:―

20PART 1 INTRODUCTORY

1 Citation and commencement

This Act may be cited as the Middle Level Act 201[8], and comes into force at
the end of 28 days beginning with the day on which it is passed.


2 25Interpretation

In this Act—

“the 1810 Act” means an Act of the fiftieth year of the reign of His Majesty
King George the Third, entitled “An Act for improving the Drainage of
certain Lands within the North and South-west Parts of the Middle Level,
30Part of the Great Level of the Fens commonly called Bedford Level”;

“authorised officer” means any person authorised in writing by the
Commissioners under section 16 to carry out the functions of the
Commissioners in respect of navigation under the provisions of the
navigation Acts;

35“the Commissioners” means the Middle Level Commissioners constituted
under the Middle Level Acts;

“master” means the person taking or having for the time being (whether
lawfully or not) the command, charge or management of a vessel;

“the Middle Level” means the fen lands and low grounds subject to be taxed
40by virtue of the 1810 Act;

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“the Middle Level Acts” means―

the 1810 Act;

an Act of the seventh and eighth years of the reign of Her Majesty
Queen Victoria, entitled “An Act for improving the Drainage and
5Navigation of the Middle Level of the Fens”;

the Middle Level Drainage Amendment Act 1848;

the Middle Level Act 1862;

the Middle Level Act 1867; and

the Middle Level Act 1874;

10“the navigation Acts” means the Middle Level Acts, the Nene Navigation
Act 1753, the Wisbech Canal Act 1794, and this Act;

“navigation byelaws” means byelaws made under section 51 of the Middle
Level Act 1874 (power to make byelaws for navigation) or under section
10 (byelaws) of this Act;

15“the Nene Navigation Act” means the Act of Parliament passed in the
twenty-seventh year of the reign of His Majesty King George the Second,
entitled “An Act for improving and preserving the Navigation from
Salter’s Load Sluice in the County of Norfolk, to Standground Sluice in
the County of Huntingdon; and from Flood’s Ferry in the Isle of Ely in
20the County of Cambridge, to Ramsey High Load in the said County of
Huntingdon; and also the Navigation from Old Bedford Sluice in the said
County of Norfolk to the River Nene, in the Parish of Ramsey, in the said
County of Huntingdon”;

“owner” includes―

(a) 25in relation to any vessel, the master or hirer of that vessel; and

(b) in relation to any building or structure―

(i) the tenant;

(ii) occupier; or

(iii) any person for the time being who, whether in that person’s
30own right or as agent or trustee for any other person, is entitled
to receive the rack rent of the land, or who would be so entitled
if the land were so let;

“personal water craft” means any water craft (not being a structure which,
by reason of its concave shape, provides buoyancy for the carriage of
35persons or goods) propelled by a jet drive or other mechanical means of
propulsion and steered either―

(a) by means of a handlebar operated linkage system (with or without a
rudder at the stern);

(b) by movement of the body weight of the person or persons riding the
40craft; or

(c) by a combination of those methods;

“polluting matter” means sewage or any other offensive or injurious matter,
whether solid or liquid;

“power-driven vessel” means any vessel propelled by machinery, including
45any vessel propelled by a detachable outboard engine, but does not
include any vessel for the time being proceeding solely by or under sail,
oar or paddle;

“use” in relation to any vessel on a waterway, includes launching the vessel
onto the waterway, keeping or mooring it on the waterway, navigating it
50on the waterway, and letting it for hire on the waterway;

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“vehicle” includes every description of vehicle, apparatus, machinery or
equipment capable of being used as a means of transportation on land;

“vessel” includes every description of craft, including a personal water
craft, with or without means of propulsion of any kind, used or capable
5of being used to carry persons, goods, plant or machinery, or of being
propelled or moved, on, in, or by water;

“water control structure” means any structure or appliance for introducing
water into or removing water from a waterway or for controlling,
regulating or affecting the level of the water or the flow of water in, into
10or out of a waterway and any aqueduct;

“the waterways” means the waterways in respect of which the Commissioners
are the navigation authority under the navigation Acts, including―

(a) so much of the waterways set out in column 1 of the table in Schedule
1 as lie between the points set out in column 2 of that table and the
15points set out in column 3 of that table;

(b) all water control structures in, on, or on the banks of, those waterways;
and

(c) any watercourse in the Middle Level, or any lake, pit, pond, marina or
other substantially enclosed water, adjacent to those waterways and
20from which any vessel may be navigated (whether or not through a
lock or other similar work) into the waterways other than―

(i) any waters which are used, for mooring or navigation, only by
the owner of the land upon which those waters are situated;
and

(ii) 25any waters which are used, for mooring or navigation, only by
an occupier of an adjoining residential building; and

“the Wisbech Canal Act” means the Act of Parliament passed in the thirty-
fourth year of the reign of His Majesty King George the Third, entitled
“An Act for making and maintaining a Navigable Canal from Wisbech
30River, at or near a Place called the Old Sluice, in the Town of Wisbech in
the Isle of Ely and County of Cambridge, to join the River Nene in the
Parish of Outwell, in the said Isle of Ely, and in the County of Norfolk,
and for improving and maintaining the Navigation of the said River from
Outwell Church to Salters Load Sluice”.


3 35Navigation Advisory Committee


(1) The Commissioners must establish a body, to be known as the Navigation
Advisory Committee (in this section referred to as “the Committee”), to advise
the Commissioners on the exercise of their functions in respect of navigation
under the navigation Acts.

(2) 40Subject to subsection (3), the Committee is to consist of persons appointed by
the Commissioners who appear to the Commissioners to be (taken together)
representative of―

(a) recreational motor-boating interests in the waterways;

(b) the interests of individuals who use vessels on the waterways as their
45sole residence (including individuals who do not own or have access to
a permanent mooring);

(c) other navigation interests in the waterways;

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(d) other recreational users of the waterways and their banks;

(e) riparian owners in the Middle Level; and

(f) other local interests in the Middle Level.

(3) The Commissioners must, except in a case of urgency where it is not reasonably
5practicable to do so, consult the Committee on―

(a) proposals to provide facilities or services in respect of the waterways
and their banks;

(b) proposals to impose or vary charges or fees relating to the waterways
or their banks; and

(c) 10proposals to make navigation byelaws.

(4) In consulting the Committee pursuant to subsection (3) the Commissioners
must allow a reasonable time (not being less than 28 days) for the Committee
to meet and report back to them.

(5) The Committee may at any time make representations or recommendations in
15relation to, or refer to the Commissioners, any matter affecting the navigation
or use of the waterways and their banks.

(6) The Commissioners must take into consideration any matter, recommendation
or representation which may from time to time be referred or made to them
by the Committee.

20PART 2 REGULATION OF NAVIGATION

4 Charges


(1) The Commissioners may fix and recover reasonable charges for―

(a) the use of any waterway by any vessel;

(b) 25the provision of services and facilities in respect of the waterways and
their banks; and

(c) the registration of any vessel under navigation byelaws.

(2) In exercising the power under subsection (1) the Commissioners must aim to
secure that, taking one financial year with another, the income from charges
30under that subsection does not exceed the annualised costs incurred by the
Commissioners in exercising their functions in respect of navigation under the
navigation Acts.

(3) The Commissioners may revise, waive or remove any charge fixed under
subsection (1), and different charges may be fixed for different cases or classes
35of case.

(4) The Commissioners may make the use of the services and facilities referred in
subsection (1)(b) subject to such terms and conditions as the Commissioners
may specify in writing.

(5) Within 28 days of fixing or revising charges under this section, the
40Commissioners must publish notice of―

(a) the amounts of the charges;

(b) the date on which they were fixed or revised; and

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(c) the period in respect of which they are in force (which may not
commence before the date of publication).

(6) The notice required by subsection (5) must be―

(a) displayed at one or more convenient places on or adjacent to the
5waterway;

(b) made available by the Commissioners free of charge on request; and

(c) published in some other way.

(7) No charge shall be payable in respect of the use of a waterway by a vessel
belonging to or employed in the service of any public authority or body for
10the purpose of the exercise of any functions conferred upon that authority or
body by statute.


5 Arrangements with other authorities


(1) The Commissioners may enter into arrangements with any other authority
which is authorised to require registration of vessels navigating any waterway
15under the jurisdiction of that authority for the purpose of co-ordinating―

(a) the exercise of the functions conferred under this Act and under any
navigation byelaws regarding the registration of vessels or the collection
of charges; and

(b) the exercise by that authority of any functions conferred on them
20regarding the registration of vessels or the collection of charges in
respect of vessels of the same or a similar class or description.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing any such arrangements
may provide―

(a) for treating registration certificates issued by one of the parties to the
25arrangements as registration certificates issued by the other and a
vessel registered by one of the parties to the arrangements as registered
by the other;

(b) for treating distinguishing marks or numbers assigned to a vessel
registered by one party to the arrangements as having been assigned to
30that vessel by the other; and

(c) for apportioning any charges between the parties to the arrangements.


6 Temporary closure of waterways


(1) Without prejudice to the provisions of section 7 the Commissioners may
temporarily prohibit, restrict or regulate the use of a waterway for any of the
35following purposes―

(a) the construction, improvement, maintenance or alteration of any
waterway or water control structure or other work in, on, under, over
or adjoining the waterway;

(b) subject to subsection (2), to facilitate the holding of functions in
40connection with the use of the waterway as a place of recreation and for
leisure pursuits;

(c) subject to subsection (3), in the case of the waterway known as Well
Creek, for the purposes of allowing ice to form and remain for the
purposes of facilitating ice skating on any part of that waterway.

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(2) The Commissioners may not prohibit, restrict or regulate the use of a waterway
under subsection (1)(b) for more than one half-hour in any period of one hour
or for more than eight periods each of one half-hour in any period of twenty-
four hours.

(3) 5The Commissioners may only prohibit the use of Well Creek under subsection
(1)(c) in the periods―

(a) starting on 1 December and finishing on 24 December;

(b) starting on 25 December and finishing on 1 January, but only if ice
which, in the Commissioners' opinion, is of sufficient thickness to allow
10ice skating to take place, has already formed on the waterway; and

(c) starting on 2 January and finishing on 1 March.

(4) Before exercising their powers under subsection (1) the Commissioners must,
except in an emergency, publish a notice in one or more local newspapers
circulating in the Middle Level.

(5) 15The notice must―

(a) be published not less than 28 days (or, in the case of subsection (1)(c), 7 days)
before the powers are to be exercised; and

(b) state the extent to which, the period during which, and the purpose
for which, the use of the waterway is to be prohibited, restricted or
20regulated.

(6) A copy of the notice must be conspicuously displayed―

(a) in one or more places on or adjacent to the waterway to which it relates;
and

(b) in such other place or places as the Commissioners consider appropriate
25for bringing its contents to the notice of persons using the waterway.


7 Closure of locks

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 5 the Commissioners may direct
that Stanground Lock, Salters Lode Lock, or both of them may be closed to
navigation―

(a) 30on Christmas Day;

(b) between sunset and sunrise; or

(c) on any one day each week (not being a Saturday or a Sunday and
not including Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Monday)
between 1 October in one year and 31 March in the following year, as
35the Commissioners may determine.

(2) Without prejudice to the effect of section 67 of the Middle Level Act 1874
(penalty for unlawful passing through a sluice), a person who uses, interferes
with, opens or closes any lock or its mechanism when the lock is closed to
navigation under subsection (1) commits an offence, and is liable on summary
40conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.


8 Repairs to buildings

(1) This section applies where any building or structure in, on, under or over a
waterway or its banks is, because of its state of disrepair, causing or in imminent
danger of causing an obstruction to the passage of vessels on that waterway.

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(2) Where this section applies, the Commissioners may serve notice on the owner of
the building or structure requiring the owner to carry out such reasonable and
practicable works as are specified in the notice for the purpose of remedying
or preventing the obstruction within such reasonable time as is specified in the
5notice.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), if the owner does not carry out the works specified
in the notice, the Commissioners may proceed to carry out those works and
recover the expenses reasonably incurred in so doing from the owner as a civil
debt.

(4) 10Any person on whom notice is served under subsection (2) may within 14 days
serve on the Commissioners a counter notice objecting to the necessity for such
works.

(5) Where a counter-notice is served under subsection (4)―

(a) the operation of the notice is suspended until―

(i) 15agreement has been reached as to the necessity of the works; or

(ii) the dispute has been determined in accordance with paragraph (b);
and

(b) if that person and the Commissioners cannot reach agreement the
dispute is to be be referred to the arbitration of a single arbitrator to be
20appointed in default of agreement by the President of the Institution of
Civil Engineers on the application of either party.


9 Stranded, grounded and sunken vessles and vehicles

(1) Whenever any vessel or vehicle is sunk in any waterway―

(a) the owner of the vessel or vehicle must as soon as may be―

(i) 25raise and remove it; and

(ii) remove any obstructions caused by the sinking and raising of the
vessel or vehicle; and

(b) if the owner of the vessel or vehicle fails to comply with paragraph (a),
the Commissioners may raise and remove the vessel or vehicle, and any
30such obstructions.

(2) Whenever any vessel is stranded or abandoned in any waterway the
Commissioners may after serving not less than 14 days’ notice on the owner of
the vessel, unless it is not practicable after reasonable inquiry to ascertain the
name and address of the owner, raise and remove the vessel.

(3) 35Whenever any vessel is, without lawful authority, left or moored in any
waterway the Commissioners may after serving not less than 28 days’ notice
on the owner of the vessel, unless it is not practicable after reasonable inquiry
to ascertain the name and address of the owner, raise and remove the vessel.

(4) Subsections (2) and (3) do not require notice to be served in the case of
40emergency.

(5) The Commissioners may recover from the owner of any vessel or vehicle to
which subsection (1), (2) or (3) applies all expenses reasonably incurred by
the Commissioners in respect of the raising, removal and storage of the vessel
or vehicle or in raising, removing or storing any furniture, tackle and apparel

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  from such vessel or vehicle or any goods, chattels and effects raised or removed
from the vessel or vehicle, or in removing any obstructions.

(6) If any vessel or vehicle to which subsection (1), (2) or (3) applies is not within
six weeks of its removal by the Commissioners proved to the reasonable
5satisfaction of the Commissioners to belong to any claimant, the vessel or
vehicle (together with any furniture, tackle, apparel, goods, chattels and
effects) shall vest in the Commissioners.

(7) If within six months of its removal, a claim is made to the vessel or vehicle
by a person who subsequently proves to the reasonable satisfaction of
10the Commissioners that he is the owner of such vessel or vehicle, then the
Commissioners must―

(a) if the vessel or vehicle is unsold, permit the owner to retake it together
with any furniture, tackle, apparel, goods, chattels and effects belonging
to such vessel or vehicle upon payment of the expenses referred to in
15subsection (4); or

(b) if the vessel or vehicle and such furniture, tackle, apparel, goods, chattels
and effects have been sold, pay to such owner the amount of the proceeds
of such sale after deducting those expenses, and where the proceeds
are insufficient to reimburse the Commissioners those expenses, the
20deficiency may be recovered by the Commissioners from that person.

(8) For the purposes of this section―

“owner” means―

(a) in relation to any vessel or vehicle aground, sunk, stranded,
abandoned, left or moored as described in subsection (1), (2) or (3), the
25owner of the vessel or vehicle at the time of its grounding, sinking,
stranding, abandonment, leaving or mooring; and

(b) in relation to a vessel any person registered or deemed to be
registered with the Commissioners as the owner of the vessel under
the provisions of section 5 or of any navigation byelaws is to be
30conclusively deemed to be the owner of such vessel or vehicle;

“vehicle” includes any part of a vehicle; and

“vessel” includes any part of a vessel.

(9) For the purposes of this section, a vessel is left or moored without lawful
authority if―

(a) 35navigation byelaws are in force requiring the vessel to be registered,
and it is unregistered;

(b) the position or mooring of the vessel constitutes a trespass; or

(c) the vessel obstructs navigation in the waterways.


10 Byelaws

(1) 40Without prejudice to section 51 of the Middle Level Act 1874 (power to make
byelaws for navigation), but subject to the provisions of this section, the
Commissioners may make byelaws in relation to the waterways and their
banks for maintaining and improving those waterways and banks, for the
purposes of recreation and leisure pursuits, for controlling the navigation of
45those waterways and regulating the conduct and activities of persons using
those waterways or banks.