Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the British National Committee of PIANC (IT 55)



  The International Navigation Association (until recently the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses—PIANC), which was founded in 1885, is a world-wide non-political and non-profit making organisation open to individuals, corporate bodies and national, federal and regional Governments. It gives access to international experience and knowledge in the fields of inland and maritime waterways, ports, coastal engineering and the environment. The British National Committee (BNC) oversees the work of the British National Section.


  The White Paper outlines a welcome change in policy towards integrated modes of transport. The BNC strongly endorses the Memorandum submitted by the Institution of Civil Engineers.

  We note the proposal to establish a Commission for Integrated Transport which would overview the work of the Regional Development Agencies and of local authorities.

  We wish to emphasise some points of general significance which particularly affect waterborne transport:

    —  The proposals should lead to a system of taxation that would affect all modes of transport equitably.

    —  The costs of transport depend strongly on the return on capital. Rail and waterways are used far below their potential and this is reflected in their charging structure. It is likely that well-considered pump-priming designed to increase traffic would be economically beneficial.

    —  If intensity of use is to be increased there needs to be a radical reform of operational methods, particularly of control of locomotives and vessels, e.g., through development of signalling and operational control systems. Control systems using the best of current technology should be installed as rapidly as possible, consistent with safety and environmental conditions.

    —  Research is needed into new and innovative systems of interchange between modes of transport.


  We have noted the comments on waterborne transport in the White Paper and are greatly encouraged by its approach. A system of checks and balances is envisaged which should ensure that regional and local planning decisions conform to the recommendations of the CfIT.


  We believe that Government should adopt and work towards the waterborne freight target established by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution—30 per cent of tonne-km from present 24 per cent. This requires the creation within the DETR of a unit with a specific remit to prepare a rolling programme for waterway maintenance, improvement and development and with the task of promoting and co-ordinating strategies for waterborne freight.


  Local Authorities are subjected to great pressure from developers and must be supported so that developments which could inhibit evolution of a sustainable transport infrastructure are prevented. Whether or not industry is able to use water transport depends critically on land use planning at the local level. Local authorities have a special duty to ensure that in their land-use planning, any enterprise that is a potential user of water transport is located adjacent to the water and that any existing waterside industrial sites which become available for redevelopment are allocated to industries which might use water transport. As has happened along the Thames, waterside industrial sites and freight-handling facilities should be "safeguarded" for establishments able to use water transport—there is no hope for water transport once such sites have been redeveloped for non-water transport related activities.

  It is just as important to safeguard sites that have potential for development as interchanges between modes—road/rail, water/rail, water/road, rail/air etc.—without which integrated transport cannot exist.


  The proposal to examine the rules relating to the Freight Facilities Grant scheme is welcomed and it would be helpful if such funds could be more readily available for "pump-priming" activities and trial movements of freight. Maintenance dredging on British Waterways track is now made difficult by other calls on its funding and a method needs to be found whereby funding of maintenance for freight waterways can be guaranteed—this could be a role for a new Water Transport Unit?

September 1998

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