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

Memorandum by the Welland and Nene Area Environment Group (IW 15)


  I am Chairman of the Environment Agency's Welland and Nene Area Environment Group. Within the Boundary of my committee the Agency is the Navigation Authority for the rivers Nene, Welland and Glen.

  In January 1999 the Waterways Minister ended around six years of uncertainty on the future of the Nene and Ouse Navigations. The Minister identified that the Agency would retain the Navigation responsibilities for these rivers and that partnership working with BW would be extended. The retention of the Nene and Ouse Navigations by the Agency was given resounding support by users and organisations. It is my view that this support for the Agency remains strong and I see no reason why the Minister's decision should be reversed. The excellent work between the Agency and BW in Northampton demonstrates the benefits arising from close working relationships. There may be opportunities for both organisations to work more closely with the voluntary sector and this could perhaps be reflected in more prominent committee representation.

  Although it is an obvious point to make, it is very important to stress that the management of a river navigation, such as the Nene, is very different from the management of a man-made canal. The principal of integrated river basin management is fundamental to the management of river navigations. On the Nene for example a close working relationship between navigation and flood defence is essential, particularly for the safety of users in high river flows.

  The Area Environment Group is closely involved with the development and implementation of Local Environment Agency Plans. Navigation and recreation issues and aspirations are a key component of our local plans which view the environment in a comprehensive and integrated manner.

Dr George Waterhouse


25 September 2000

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