Memorandum by British Waterways (IW 52)
THE POTENTIAL OF INLAND WATERWAYS
1. British Waterways is a public corporation
sponsored by the Department of the Environment, Transport and
the Regions. We manage and care for over 2,000 miles of canals
and rivers in England, Scotland and Wales (a map and list of navigations
is Appendix A). We manage over 1,500 miles of canals and over
400 miles of rivers including making sure they are safe places
for people to enjoy as well as managing water supply and control.
1,624 miles are currently navigable and some 200 miles are in
the process of restoration to full navigation. Our 1,800 staff
care for over 2,800 listed structures, 130 scheduled ancient monuments,
3,270 bridges, 66 tunnels, 450 aqueducts, 1,520 locks, 1,036 lock
cottages and dwellings and 88 reservoirs. Our waterways are part
of or pass through more than 100 SSSIs and 1,500 local wildlife
sites. We provide services and facilities for users and generate
income from a wide range of sources (private and public) to reinvest
in the future of the waterways.
2. Some 160 million visits are made to our
waterways by 10 million people each year. There are 25,000 powered
boats on our waterways. Our research estimates that total expenditure
by visitors during trips involving visits to our waterways is
£1.5 billion per year, supporting directly and indirectly
some 54,000 jobs.
3. As well as being subject to the public
general legislation which affects any modern organisation, British
Waterways is specifically governed by the Transport Acts (1962
and 1968) and the British Waterways Acts (1971, 1983 and 1995).
Also still extant, is a plethora of 18th and 19th century legislation,
much of which is inappropriate to the modern management of the
4. The Government expects British Waterways
to discharge its statutory duties within the context of wider
Government policy. Its overall policy for inland waterways has
recently been reviewed and published as Waterways for Tomorrow.
This policy document is one of the subjects of the Committee's
inquiry. The Government also publishes formal guidance for British
Waterwaysmost recently the Framework Document for British
Waterways published in February 1999 with the following principal
Waterways should be maintained and
developed in a sustainable manner so that they fulfil their full
economic, social and environmental potential;
British Waterways should work in
partnership with other public sector organisations, as well as
the private and voluntary sectors to maximise promotion of and
investment in the inland waterways;
Because of its significant expertise,
British Waterways should take the lead in consulting and co-ordinating
other UK navigation authorities to seek harmonious and rationalised
policies and systems of operation for the good of Britain's inland
waterways and their users.
5. British Waterways draws up its local
business plans in consultation with over 500 local and national
stakeholder groups. All our waterways are managed to defined published
standards (examples are set out in Appendix B). We also publish
our overall plans so that users and partners know exactly what
they can expect and can hold us accountable. The latest published
plan is "Our Plan for the Future2000-04". We
will publish our next plan once the Government has determined
our grant levels under Spending Review 2000.
6. In the 10 years 1989-90 to 1999-2000,
British Waterways has boosted its income, which is reinvested
in the waterways, from £86 million pa to £157 million
pa. Much of this improvement has come from our success in attracting
investment from third parties such as the EU, local authorities,
regeneration agencies, Lottery distributors and the private sector
(details are in Appendix C).
7. British Waterways carries out regular
research and consultation to ascertain the views of its users.
We were awarded a Charter Mark at our first application in 1994
and received a further award in 1997.
8. Since the late 1980s British Waterways
has set out to change and adapt itself to maximise the benefits
of the waterways we manage for the nation. The (then) Environment
Select Committee reviewed the work of British Waterways in 1989
as we were putting in place devolved management structures which
were designed to empower staff and enable better customer service.
We believe that those changes made then have underpinned our ability
to realise the potential of our waterways in a fast changing modern
(B) THE POTENTIAL
9. Conclusion 1The inland waterways
have a very positive contribution to make to the social, economic
and environmental well being of millions of people in this country.
There is potential to achieve still further public benefit. See
10. Conclusion 2British Waterways
does not believe that there is inherent conflict between the different
roles that the waterways are required to perform. The key to achieving
the maximum overall public benefit is in treating these roles
as complementary. The sustainable, long term, future for the waterways
can only be assured when these objectives are in balance. This
needs professional management which is able to apply its understanding
to the integrated management of the waterways. This management
works in a context where Government provides a policy framework
and regulatory controls in areas of key public policy concern.
11. Consequently, British Waterways does
not believe that any one objective or use should be given automatic
priority. In operational terms, as the Committee would expect,
the safety of both public and staff is British Waterways' top
priority. See paragraphs 53-57.
12. Conclusion 3We support the policies
set out in Waterways for Tomorrow. See paragraphs 58-61.
13. Conclusion 4The waterways need
adequate public investment to secure the innovative developments
envisaged in Waterways for Tomorrow. See paragraphs 62-63.
14. Conclusion 5We believe that in
order to maximise the potential benefits identified in Waterways
for Tomorrow, it would be advantageous to transfer the navigation
responsibilities of the Environment Agency to British Waterways.
See paragraphs 64-71.
15. Conclusion 6We welcome the fact
that Waterways for Tomorrow announced initiatives to facilitate
the carriage of freight by water. We believe that, given the right
targeted assistance, freight traffic on our waterways can be doubled
in the next five years. See paragraphs 50-52.
The Committee is inquiring into five specific
16. The first issue was subdivided into
four areas and asked respondents to consider the role of inland
waterways with respect to:
urban and rural regeneration;
leisure, recreation, tourism and
the industrial heritage;
the environment and the enhancement
of wildlife; and
water transfer, drainage and telecommunications.
17. Issue 1(i)Urban and Rural RegenerationWaterways
play an important role in urban and rural regeneration providing
both large and small scale opportunities for the revitalisation
of communities. You can see larger examples in Birmingham, Manchester,
Nottingham, Leeds, London, Sheffield and Gloucester. Smaller examples
are widely found and include places as diverse as Bridgwater (Somerset),
Brecon, Devizes, Market Harborough, Stourport-on-Severn, Burton-on-Trent
and Ripon. These examples include regeneration around both canal
and river corridors. The waterspace is attractive and acts as
a catalyst and focus for development. Sensitive development involves
local communities and provides environmental enhancements. Regeneration
provides new uses for old buildings many of which have historic
significance. Above all, regeneration creates employment and economic
activity. The income streams that regeneration creates can provide
one element of the funding mix to secure the future of the waterways.
18. British Waterways often acts as a catalyst
to bring together other bodies including local authorities and
statutory agencies to take a fresh approach to the waterside and
its adjacent "corridor". British Waterways' role is
also valued by partners because our ownership of the waterway
gives us a long term commitment to integrated management of the
water space and associated facilities in a way that balances commercial,
environmental and social issues. We develop sustainable income
streams from regeneration to secure the future of the waterway.
This is a major factor underpinning successful sustainable development
and could be used as a model for regeneration on other waterways.
19. Regeneration is often based on restoration
of navigation and sometimes on building entirely new waterways.
The navigable waterway network managed by British Waterways is
growing. We are on target to complete the restoration of 200 miles
of waterway by 2001-02. A significant example is the restoration
of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal generating significant environmental
improvement and creating some 400 jobs and the Kennet & Avon
Canal which will create and/or safeguard 1,600 jobs. Plans are
now under active consideration to restore more waterways such
as the Cotswold Canals and also to build new links such as the
one between the Grand Union Canal, near Milton Keynes and the
River Great Ouse, near Bedford. Details of these and other restoration
and expansion projects are contained in Appendix D.
20. Urban regenerationPartnership
is the key to success in stimulating sustainable regeneration.
British Waterways works with local authorities, regional development
agencies, private developers and many others. During the 10 years
since the Committee's 1989 inquiry into the British Waterways
Board, we have been involved in 25 major schemes, of which 12
are substantially complete and 13 are in progress. A significant
example of our work in this area has been our partnership with
local authorities and businesses to animate the waterspace in
London Docklands (see Appendix J) and build stronger links with
local communities. Appendix E summarises independent research
to evaluate the benefits of a selection of our urban regeneration
21. Rural regenerationWaterways are
also a focus for rural communities. British Waterways' approach
to rural regeneration strategy focuses on three key themesrural
enterprise, rural environment and social/community benefits. It
aims to promote new funding together with relevant authorities
and organisations, to help improve and sustain waterways which
are officially classed as rural. These account for more than 50
per cent of our network. Case studies of sample rural regeneration
projects are set out in Appendix F.
22. Regeneration potentialBritish
Waterways believes that there is still considerable scope to achieve
further urban and rural regeneration through waterways. This will
make a significant contribution to deliver job creation, social
inclusion and generate environmental improvement. We believe that
the creation of the RDAs is a helpful development and we are already
in the process of building dynamic partnerships with them. Appendix
G lists urban and rural regeneration schemes for which we are
currently carrying out studies. There are other sites where significant
regeneration could be achieved but which lie outside British Waterways'
network. Principal examples of such sites are also listed in Appendix
H. We believe that transfer of navigation responsibilities to
British Waterways would allow us to unlock the regeneration potential
of such sites which is currently unrealised. See issue 6 below.
23. Regeneration and Waterways for TomorrowWaterways
for Tomorrow recognises the benefits of waterway regeneration.
We are pleased that the Government seeks to promote regeneration
based on waterways. We also agree that the RDAs have a key role
to play. Government guidance will help to ensure that future road
building schemes do not limit the potential (or increase the costs)
of waterway restoration.
24. Issue 1(ii)Leisure, recreation,
tourism and the industrial heritageOver 70 per cent of
the population lives within five miles of a waterway. They are
a leisure, recreation and tourism resource for millions.
25. BoatingNavigation and boats are
at the core of what waterways are about. They provide life and
activity on the waterspace. Our research shows that users value
this very highly. Boats are therefore a key feature of living,
attractive waterways. The overall trend in the boating market
is of declining numbers. However, the number of boats on British
Waterways' network has increased by 14 per cent in the last 10
years. There are currently over 25,000 boats with long term licences
on our network. In 1998 British Waterways proposed a partnership
with the Environment Agency, to introduce a "gold licence",
a premium rate licence to allow those boaters who wished to do
so to use the waterways of both authorities without requiring
separate licences. The scheme has proved popular.
26. British Waterways plans to ensure that
the level of support facilities (moorings, pump out, gas, water
etc) required by boaters is available. We are currently working
in partnership with the British Marine Industries Federation to
make sure that future provisions meet demand and provide profitable
business opportunities. We are currently supporting a joint DETR/DCMS/Sport
England/Environment Agency research project on Access to Water.
This will provide data to identify where there may be opportunities
to improve access for canoeists and other recreational uses.
27. Cycling and walkingThe vast majority
of visits to the waterways are for these purposes. In some areas,
towpaths provide valuable traffic free routes. The Government's
approach to integrated transport policy encourages local authorities
to take account of this in their Local Transport Plans. We support
this approach and believe that local authorities should be strongly
encouraged by DETR to invest in waterways to encourage this kind
28. AnglingWaterways are widely used
for angling. British Waterways is the largest provider of coarse
angling in England and Wales. Although we earn income from leasing
agreements with angling clubs (£740,000 in 1999-2000) and
provide a fishery management service, the revenue from rod licensing
(total on all inland waters £13.3 million in 1999-2000) goes
to the Environment Agency. In its capacity as regulator, the Environment
Agency recently lifted the close season on all canals (except
29. We recently started a marketing reappraisal
of angling on our waterways in partnership with the National Federation
of Anglers and The National Association of Fisheries and Angling
Consultatives. The completed strategy will confirm our continued
commitment to angling and will identify the actions which we and
our partners will take to arrest the long term decline in the
sport on our waterways.
30. Leisure PotentialOur research
(Henley Centre) shows that the trend is for busier people to require
higher standards of leisure service to maximise their scarce free
time. The waterways have the potential to provide a significant
range of leisure activities that are attractive to those seeking
a "real" alternative to the stress of modern life. British
Waterways is proactively developing products and services to meet
these new customer needs. We seek to interpret heritage and environment
in a modern context, also creating in the process the heritage
of tomorrow. For example, we are extending the availability of
waterways and their facilities, improving service standards and
providing modern visitor services (see paragraphs 31-34 below).
We work extensively with partners to do this.
31. Built and natural heritage sitesBritish
Waterways is implementing a strategy to improve facilities and
generate revenue by creating significant "heritage destinations"
at key points on the system. Based on expert and innovative interpretation
of living heritage, these will form a key part of building wider
understanding of an involvement in the waterways. Key projects
currently under construction are:
Anderton Boat Liftvisitor
attraction and opportunity to experience the world's first and
Britain's only boat lift.
"The Standedge Experience"an
innovative visitor centre and boat trip into the country's highest,
deepest and longest canal tunnelpart of the restoration
of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
Falkirk Wheela revolutionary
design to lift boats at the site of a former flight of locks joining
the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals
of a series of visitor¸focused nature reserves providing
access to and interpretation of the internationally recognised
wildlife which this unspoilt waterway has to offer.
32. These projects are the first in a series
of exciting developments which we have planned to draw on the
enormous public interest in the heritage and environment of the
waterways which our market research has revealed. There is potential
to do this on waterways other than those currently managed by
33. British Waterways is committed to providing
access to the waterways for the widest possible range of people.
Indeed, we ensured that we had a legal duty to do so under the
British Waterways Act 1995. There has been a substantial increase
in recent years in use of the waterways we manage: the number
of people visiting annually is estimated to have risen from 8
million in 1986 to 10 million in 1999. Each year British Waterways
is host to some 160 million visits including:
145 million visits by walkers;
7.2 million visits by cyclists;
2.6 million visits by anglers;
2.6 million visits by boaters and
their passengers; and
1.5 million visits by canoeists and
34. We have developed a partnership (launched
by the Waterways Minister) with the Fieldfare Trust to promote
access for people with disabilities to waterway facilities. The
partnership is piloting the use of wheelchair¸accessible
gates, disabled¸access boats, tactile sculptures and hedges
for the visually impaired and wheelchair¸friendly fishing
platforms. The scheme also aims to provide improved information
about accessible towpaths and facilities for disabled visitors.
We also work in partnership with the Community Boat Association
to promote high quality access to boating on the waterways for
a wide range of people of all abilities and backgrounds.
35. Leisure, recreation, tourism and the
industrial heritage and Waterways for TomorrowWe
are encouraged that Waterways for Tomorrow takes a positive
stance on tourism and recreation. We support DETR in its desire
to liaise with other Government departments (principally DCMS)
to ensure a co¸ordinated approach to tourism and recreation.
36. Issue 1(iii)Environment and enhancement
of wildlifeWaterways are a diverse habitat containing many
species important for biodiversity. Wildlife began colonising
the canal system as soon as it was built. The rivers we manage
also provide diverse habitats for wildlife. The UK Biodiversity
Action Plan contains a special section on canals. This biodiversity
is part of the attraction of the waterways. In managing and developing
the waterways it is essential that this legacy is conserved and
37. The conservation and enhancement of
this natural heritage is a key part of British Waterways' policy.
We have an important role to play in protecting an outstanding
range of wildlife including rare plants such as floating water
plantain and grass¸wrack pondweed, and animals, including
the much loved water vole, bats, white¸clawed crayfish and
even freshwater sponges. Our canals and rivers form a unique corridor
of historic landscapes linking town and country and providing
excellent opportunities for environmental initiatives. We understand
the part which biodiversity plays in attracting the public to
use the waterways. We believe we are working positively with a
wide range of partners within the framework of Government guidelines
on biodiversity and related issues.
38. We employ specialist staff in our Environmental
and Scientific Services Unit in Gloucester and in our Waterway
Environment Services unit near Rugby and based with project teams,
to advise our managers on environmental, landscape and ecological
issues. We have recently published British Waterways and BiodiversityA
framework for waterway wildlife strategies. This document
provides the context for our staff to achieve their biodiversity
targets in partnership with other environmental bodies and local
39. Every waterway already manages the environment
in accordance with our Environmental Code of Practice. This year,
using the new framework noted above and its accompanying Biodiversity
Manual, each waterway will begin to assess its biodiversity potential
with the aim of completing full biodiversity plans on every waterway
40. Good quality water is important both
to the general public and to our business objectives. British
Waterways regularly reviews the quality of water in its waterways
and feeders using data from the Environment Agency and the Scottish
Environment Protection Agency. We work in partnership to improve
quality where needed.
41. We recognise the importance of partnership
in realising the potential of environmental management and we
consult in England, Scotland and Wales, with Government departments,
statutory nature and conservation agencies, the Environment Agency
(and Scottish Environment Protection Agency), local authorities
and the voluntary sector, particularly the Wildlife Trusts.
42. The waterways can also contribute to
the environment by reducing pollution. In part, this is achieved
by transferring freight traffic to water (see paragraphs 50-52).
We have worked in partnership to create a new hydroelectric scheme
on the River Trent at Beeston. We are currently reviewing this
to see if it can be applied elsewhere.
43. Environment and the enhancement of wildlife
and Waterways for TomorrowWe are encouraged that
the Government recognises the environmental value of the waterways.
We know the Government understands the importance of balancing
conservation with development, access and use.
44. Issue 1(iv)Water Transfer, Drainage
and TelecommunicationsThe Committee asked questions about
water transfer, land drainage and telecommunications. This highlights
the actual and potential importance of the waterway as a network
providing added value for business and individual customers. The
waterways have found a new role as a modern, vibrant national
network to supplement their traditional role in carrying freight.
45. Water transferCanals have always
been used for water transfer, both for water management reasons
to facilitate navigation and for sale to business customers. For
example, the Llangollen Canal has long fed the Hurleston water
treatment works now owned by North West Water, and 50 per cent
of the water supplied to customers of Bristol Water comes from
the River Severn via the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. British
Waterways and Bristol Water have recently signed a new agreement
to secure supplies for the next 30 years. All British Waterways'
use of water is made in the context of the water resources management
strategy which we develop in partnership with the Environment
Agency. The sale of water is also regulated by the Environment
Agency's system of abstraction licensing.
46. Water transfer potentialthere
is great potential for British Waterways' network to transfer
water. Waterways for Tomorrow recognises and supports this.
This scheme will help to open up competition in the water industry.
British Waterways can, with appropriate partners, create a business
opportunity which adds value by managing the transfer of water
and its sale to end users in both raw and treated forms. Comprehensive
feasibility studies and field trials have shown that water transfer
and sales on a larger scale are practical and can be done profitably.
We believe that addressing imbalances in water supplies across
the country should be given a high public policy priority. British
Waterways has made excellent progress in developing proposals
for this potential "water grid". Independent research
confirms that we can transfer significant quantities of water
without adversely affecting environment, heritage or navigation.
Indeed, the changes made will improve amenity for navigation.
We are currently working with Partnerships UK to develop a joint
venture with the private sector. Our plans suggest that the first
sales of water under this initiative could start in 2002. There
is potential to link the water grid using our waterways to the
waterways managed by other bodies.
47. Land drainageInland waterways
have become an integral part of the land drainage system and many
take storm water discharges from roads and sewers. British Waterways
makes a considerable contribution to the management of land drainage.
Studies have highlighted the value of this function as being in
the region of £37 million pa, and yet we have been hampered
by being unable under current legislation to charge the beneficiaries
(eg water utilities) for the service we provide.
48. On many of our rivers (eg, Aire, Calder,
Lee, Soar, Stort and Weaver) some of the operation of flood defence
is integrated into our navigation function. Together with the
Environment Agency, we reviewed this in 1996 in a series of comprehensive
reports and concluded that this way of working was both efficient
and effective. We believe the benefits of this kind of working
could be extended to some other rivers. See also paragraphs 67-71
49. TelecommunicationsBritish Waterways
recognised the potential of its network to gain benefit from the
changing telecommunications market in the early 1990s. Fibreway,
a joint venture with GEC (now Marconi), was set up in 1993. It
now operates a high capacity 1,300 km telecommunications networkhalf
of which runs under British Waterways' canal towpaths. It reaches
all of mainland Britain's major cities, serving customers in the
telecommunication, utility and internet service provision industries.
Revenue from Fibreway is currently being reinvested in reducing
British Waterways' backlog of safety related maintenance. The
enormous growth in potential of the telecommunications market
led us to restructure our joint venture with Marconi in May 2000
moving Fibreway from a supplier of "dark fibre" into
the role of network operator. Provided investment capital is available,
this will allow substantial investment in Fibreway in the next
2-3 years further expanding its potential to produce revenue for
investment in the long term future of the waterways. There is
potential to extend the fibre optic network using other existing
or restored navigations.
50. The inland waterways were originally
adapted and built to carry freight. Competition from rail and
road transport now means that the market for waterborne freight
is a specialised niche market suitable for non-time critical goods.
In terms of tonne km, total freight carried accounts for less
than 1 per cent of freight moved in the UK.
51. Some 3.5 million tonnes pa are carried
on waterways managed by British Waterways. We see freight as an
important traffic which, when appropriately managed, can co¸exist
with leisure traffic on our waterways.
52. Freight and Waterways for TomorrowWe
welcome the fact that Waterways for Tomorrow announced
consultation on ways to improve grants to freight projects on
waterways and the setting up of a wide ranging freight study group
to encourage new partnerships. We also welcome the subsequent
extension of Freight Facilities Grant to fund non¸capital
as well as capital investment in the waterway track and facilities
by navigation authorities. A significant example of such a partnership
is the one which we are testing on the River Lee in East London
to move domestic waste by barge from local authority collection
points to a new build waterside incinerator which converts the
waste into usable green heating fuel. We enthusiastically support
these initiatives and believe that given the right targeted assistance,
freight traffic on our waterways can be doubled in the next five
Issue 3Complementary nature of objectives
for inland waterways
53. Our submission shows that the waterways
have a significant modern role in the economic, social and environmental
life of the nation and that there is potential to achieve still
further public benefit.
54. British Waterways does not believe that
there is inherent conflict between the different roles that the
waterways are required to perform.
55. British Waterways believes that the
key to achieving the maximum overall public benefit is in treating
these aspects as complementary. The sustainable, long term, future
for the waterways can only be assured when these objectives are
in balance. This needs professional management which is able to
apply its understanding to the integrated management of the waterways.
This management works in a context where Government provides a
policy framework and regulatory controls in areas of key public
56. British Waterways believes it has a
proven track record in undertaking this stewardship role. Our
consultancy advice on projects relating to waterway operation,
tourism development, waterside regeneration and heritage management
is widely sought, both at home and overseas. Appendix I contains
a list of recent consultancy projects.
57. Consequently, British Waterways does
not believe that any one objective or use should be given automatic
priority. In operational terms, as the Committee would expect,
the safety of both the public and staff is British Waterways'
Issue 4Adequacy of Waterways for Tomorrow
Issue 4(i)Waterways for Tomorrow
58. We support the policies set out in Waterways
59. We believe that in order to maximise
the potential benefits identified in Waterways for Tomorrow,
it would be advantageous to transfer the navigation responsibilities
of the Environment Agency to British Waterways. See Issue 5 below
and our supplementary evidence to the Committee.
60. We have also highlighted the importance
of adequate public investment to secure the innovative developments
envisaged in Waterways for Tomorrow. See Issue 4(ii) below.
61. Waterways for Tomorrow is a good basis
on which to build a confident long term sustainable future for
the waterways. It recognises both the complexity of the waterways
and the importance of integrated navigation management. We believe
that if the challenges that the policy throws up are fully met,
then the waterways can deliver increased benefits to existing
users and make significant contributions to the delivery of Government
policy. Our waterways are in every sense a public asset.
62. Both Government and British Waterways
recognise that there has been a long history of inadequate investment
in our waterway infrastructure. As a result, a backlog of maintenance
arrears now standing at £237 million (of which £71 million
is safety related) has arisen. It is British Waterways' intention
to eliminate these arrears as quickly as is practical. Waterways
for Tomorrow and Unlocking the Potentiala new future
for British Waterways both demonstrate Government's determination
to help us do this. The additional support that Government has
made available to date has helped (along with British Waterways'
self-generated income) to reduce the backlog of safety related
maintenance from its original level of £100 million to £71
million currently. However, as we made clear in Our Plan for the
Future 2000-2004, current levels of public investment through
grant are inadequate to deal with the backlog of maintenance within
an acceptable time frame.
63. British Waterways is confident that
it is creating many new revenue earning opportunities which will
contribute significantly to the elimination of maintenance arrears
within an acceptable timescale. The success of these ventures,
which will allow the waterways to become sustainable for the long
term, depends upon investor confidence in the reliability of the
waterways. We currently await the outcome of Spending Review 2000
which will determine our grant in aid up to 2003-04. Our case
for increased public investment through both revenue and capital
grant during that period is based on the need to eliminate maintenance
arrears within a timescale which will retain investor confidence
in projects such as the water grid. Without this public investment
in the integrity of the network now, the future revenue streams
in our business plan will not be realised. We believe that Government
understands our case very well. Once the outcome of Spending Review
2000 is known, we will publish an updated Plan for the Future
showing what targets can be achieved for the elimination of arrears
of maintenance with the funding available.
Issue 5Structure of ownership etc.
64. Waterways for Tomorrow recognises
that the identity of the navigation authority responsible for
a particular waterway is often a matter of historical accident.
Broadly speaking, the transport waterways and those owned by the
nationalised railway companies ended up in British Waterways via
the British Transport Commission. Other waterways ended up with
a variety of local authorities and voluntary trusts, whilst some
rivers were included in the public owned water authorities. These
latter were then incorporated (for administrative convenience)
in the National Rivers Authority and its successor the Environment
Agency when the privatised water utilities were created.
65. The potential for improving this position
by rationalising publicly owned navigations into a single focused
body has long been recognised. Indeed this course of action was
recommended by Select Committees in 1978 and 1989. Fragmentation
of responsibility has been a disincentive to the realisation of
the full potential of the inland waterways.
66. In the field of navigation, the Environment
Agency is both regulator and operator. The proper remit (in the
absence of historical accident and administrative convenience)
is as a powerful regulator.
67. British Waterways manages successfully
within the context of the Government's framework and Environment
Agency regulation. We support the principle of integrated river
basin management on which the Environment Agency's approach is
based. It is vital that we fully include the environmental perspective
within our integrated management approach to the sustainable development
of the waterways. Integrated river basin management must be managed
within the wider context of cross catchment management which is
a key feature of some canals. It needs also to be managed within
the wider context of the built, natural and social environment
surrounding the waterways. This truly integrated approach is the
key to British Waterways' success in the sustainable regeneration
of urban and rural communities and in raising funds for the improvement
of so many rivers and canals and their surroundings.
68. We operate flood control arrangements
on behalf of the Environment Agency as do other bodies such as
water companies, internal drainage boards and local authorities.
British Waterways' and the Environment Agency's joint studies
in 1996 concluded that these arrangements were working well. We
have achieved much through working in close partnership with the
Environment Agency and this partnership must continue, even if
navigation responsibilities are transferred.
69. Waterways for Tomorrow sets out
the Government's policy for achieving sustainable development
of the waterways through an integrated approach to their management.
British Waterways has a demonstrable track record in unlocking
the potential of the waterways acting as manager and facilitator
of such sustainable development. Where transfer of navigation
responsibilities and waterspace to British Waterways has been
made, we have made good progress with sustainable development.
Six transfers have been made to British Waterways in the last
South Stratford Canal (from National
River Ouse (from York City Council)
London Docklands (from London Docklands
Development Corporation) 1997;
Linton Lock (Linton Lock Commissioners)
Hull Marina (Hull City Council) 1999;
Tees Navigation (Commission for New
Appendix I contains case studies demonstrating
benefits from the transfer of navigation responsibilities to British
70. Waterways for Tomorrow announced
the Government's intention to examine the Environment Agency's
navigation responsibilities as part of DETR's quinquennial review
of the Agency which is just starting. We believe that the true
potential of the waterways can best be realised by the transfer
of the Environment Agency's navigations to British Waterways.
British Waterways are best placed to take the integrated approach
to the sustainable development of canals and rivers that Waterways
for Tomorrow envisages. We believe that the Environment Agency
should focus on its regulatory functions.
71. We recognise that the overall responsibility
for flood control rests with the Environment Agency. However,
there are already numerous examples of rivers on which British
Waterways operates and maintains flood control systems under the
regulatory and supervisory control of the Environment Agency.
British Waterways believes that it is practical for it to manage
flood control operation on the remaining rivers currently managed
by the Environment Agency, whilst also taking responsibility for
navigation and regeneration. British Waterways welcomes the Environment
Agency's support for a British Waterways led bid for Invest to
Save funds to create a strong flow and flood control Supervisory
Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) network to improve the efficiency
and effectiveness of our joint flood control capability.
(D) WIDER PUBLIC
72. We welcome the Government's endorsement
of The Waterways Trust as part of its response to the findings
of the above consultation. This opens up enhanced ways to involve
the voluntary sector in the waterways. The Waterways Trust has
asked us to partner it on projects such as the restoration of
the Rochdale Canal and the building of the Ribble Link. British
Waterways has been contracted to manage the engineering works
involved in restoration and to manage the completed waterways
on behalf of the Trust. We also believe that The Waterways Trust
has much to contribute to the future programme of waterway restorations
(see paragraph 19) as well as to involving communities actively
with canals and rivers. It also has an important role to play
in education and conservation.
73. British Waterways believes that there
is considerable benefit to the more integrated approach to the
management of the waterways which underpins the Government's Waterways
for Tomorrow policy paper. We helped to set up the Association
of Inland Navigation Authorities in 1996 to encourage exchange
of good practice in the industry. We welcome the Government support
for the Association announced in Waterways for Tomorrow.
We also welcome the recent decision by the Government to expand
the role of the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council to all
inland waterways and not simply those managed by British Waterways.