Memorandum by The Waterways Trust (IW
THE POTENTIAL OF THE INLAND WATERWAYS
1. THE WATERWAYS
1.1 The Waterways Trust is an independent
registered charity (No. 1074541). It was formed in 1999 to promote
the waterways. Waterways for Tomorrow welcomed the setting
up of the Trust and noted that it would be able to form partnerships
which would "lead to increased support for and investment
in the waterways so helping to secure their future".
1.2 The Trust's charitable purposes place
a strong emphasis on realising social economic and environmental
benefits from conservation of the built and natural waterway environment,
waterway regeneration and educational activity including the provision
1.3 The Waterways Trust has a remit to cover
all waterways in the United Kingdom, although we are aware that
the Committee's inquiry is concerned only with England and Wales.
1.4 The Trust is a partnership organisation.
We are very much aware of the longstanding pioneering work which
organisations such as the Inland Waterways Association and the
Association of Waterway Cruising Clubs, as well as many others,
have undertaken over many years to save the waterways for this
present generation. We now look to work with them, and new waterway
partners, as we seek to widen the public involvement in waterways.
1.5 As part of our work to promote waterways
and provide the widest possible access to the waterways for community
benefit in the sustainable long term, The Waterways Trust has
the ability to acquire a long term interest in a waterway or associated
structure. Thus we own the Rochdale Canal and are long term lessees
of the Anderton Boat Lift (see paragraphs 1.5 and 3.14 below).
1.6 The Waterways Trust supports projects
that restore waterway heritage and habitats, provide access and
bring real benefits to communities. Our current partnerships include:
Rochdale CanalManchester to Halifax
A corridor of regeneration, conservation and
environmental improvement, vital for the revitalisation of many
urban and rural communities.
Partners include Rochdale, Oldham and Calderdale
Borough Councils, Manchester City Council, Millennium Commission,
English Partnerships, British Waterways, Rochdale Canal Trust.
Anderton Boat LiftNorthwich
Conserving a historic waterway structure connecting
the River Weaver and the Trent & Mersey Canal, key to vitalising
the River Weaver and a focus for regeneration of leisure and tourism
Partners include Cheshire County Council, Vale
Royal Borough Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage,
British Waterways Inland Waterways Association, Anderton Boat
Lift Trust, Friends of Anderton Boat Lift.
Forth & Clyde and Union CanalsScotland
Linking the east and west coasts, regenerating
and conserving the environment for communities.
Partners include the riparian local authorities,
Scottish Enterprise, The Local Enterprise Companies, Millennium
Commission, European Commission, British Waterways, local canal
A new navigation joining the isolated Lancaster
Canal to the waterway network via the Ribble Estuary and opening
up regeneration along the Lancaster Canal to Kendal.
Partners include Lancashire County Council,
The Ribble Link Trust, Millennium Commission, Local Businesses.
1.7 The Waterways Trust manages waterway
museums at Gloucester, Ellesmere Port and Stoke Bruerne (Northamptonshire).
The importance of the collections we care for has been recognised
by the granting of the status of "national designation".
The displays at the museum in Gloucester have been significantly
upgraded with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Fund
has also contributed to our project to increase access to waterway
archives by creating a "virtual archive".
1.8 We also give small grants to facilitate
local waterway projects. Examples include a grant to the Wildlife
Trusts to support their water policy team, a grant to Waterway
Recovery Group, a waterway volunteering organisation, for safety
training, and a grant for waterway improvements for the benefit
of the local community at Stewponey on the Worcester and Birmingham
2. SUMMARY OF
2.1 General: The following summarises the
Trust's responses to the issues raised by the committee. We believe
however that the single most important issue is issue 4 dealing
with funding for the maintenance backlog. We urge the committee
to give due priority to this issue.
2.2 We also urge a "joined up"
approach to implementation of Government policy across all five
issues. This is particularly important at regional level, and
essential if the considerable opportunities and challenges presented
by the government's new policy for the inland waterways, are to
2.3 Committee Issue 1: We believe that there
is significant potential in all the areas listed by the Committee
and we wish to play our part in relevant partnerships to ensure
that the potential is realised.
2.4 Committee Issue 2: We are supportive
of the carriage of freight on inland waterways, wherever this
is sustainable, because we believe it brings environmental benefits
to communities and that it is compatible (when expertly managed)
with all the other uses of the waterways set out above.
2.5 Committee Issue 3: We believe that the
objectives listed by the Committee are complementary. We believe
that the key to success lies in a management philosophy that sets
out to balance complementary interests. Such an approach allows
local balances and resolutions that meet local priorities in the
context of a national policy of appropriate multiple use.
2.6 Committee Issue 4: We believe that Waterways
for Tomorrow contains good policies which have correctly assessed
the potential of the inland waterways. We call on the Government
to provide planned funding to eliminate the arrears of maintenance
of both British Waterways and the Environment Agency within an
2.7 Committee Issue 5: Fragmentation of
management of the waterway network is a disincentive to public
participation, fundraising, and regeneration. Consolidation and
clarification of roles is required based on separation of operational
and regulatory roles. We believe that the kind of management framework
that specialised operators and managers like British Waterways
can provide is best suited to realising the potential of the waterways.
We also support strong and focused regulation of such navigation
authorities. The Environment Agency is well placed to provide
this, although they currently combine both roles on some navigations.
3. ISSUES OF
The role of Inland Waterways in respect of:
urban and rural regeneration;
leisure, recreation, tourism and
the industrial heritage;
the environment and enhancement of
water transfer, drainage and telecommunications.
3.1 Navigable waterways were first used
for commercial purposes. After a period of decline, they were
rescued by the enthusiasm of volunteers and became increasingly
appreciated for the leisure, tourism and recreation opportunities
they could provide. This status was confirmed by the 1968 Transport
3.2 Now, at the start of a new millennium,
they are increasingly appreciated for the whole range of benefits
listed in the Committee's question above.
3.3 The Waterways Trust welcomes the increasing
recognition by a very diverse variety of organisations and people
that the waterways have a wide ranging and valuable contribution
to make to society.
3.4 Waterways are a uniquely flexible resource
as the transformation from a transport function to a multiple
use network supporting recreation and leisure, as well as modern
needs for transport of information and water clearly demonstrates.
3.5 We believe that the Government's policy
paper Waterways for Tomorrow was inspired by recognition
of the potential contribution the waterways could make to the
enhancement of the lives of millions.
3.6 The Waterways Trust believes that waterways
act as a focus for regeneration, bringing major benefits to the
communities they connect, providing a rich environment for leisure
and recreation, an unrivalled recreational and educational resource
and a haven for wildlife.
3.7 The Waterways Trust is working to ensure
that the waterways are accessible to all, and supported, valued
and enjoyed by all sections of the community.
3.8 We therefore believe that there is significant
potential in all the areas listed by the Committee and we wish
to play our part in partnership with others to ensure that the
potential is realised.
Whether the potential for increasing commercial
freight transport can be clearly identified; and the role of commercial
freight in meeting the objectives of the Government's Integrated
Transport White Paper
3.9 Although the promotion of freight transport
by water is not a primary purpose of The Waterway Trust, we support
the positive stance taken by the government in Waterways for
3.10 We understand that the Government has
acted to facilitate improved methods of payment of Freight Facilities
Grant. A government sponsored Freight Study Group is also being
set up. We welcome this.
3.11 We understand that British Waterways
believes that freight traffic on its waterways can be doubled
in the next five years. We believe the expansion of freight requires
a focused and integrated effort across all river navigations and
3.12 We are supportive of the carriage of
freight on inland waterways, wherever this is sustainable, because
we believe it brings environmental benefits to communities and
that it is compatible (when expertly managed) with all the other
uses of the waterways set out above.
The extent to which the above objectives are complementary
and whether a principal use should be given priority
3.13 We have already stated our support
for wide ranging uses of the waterways above.
3.14 It follows that we believe that the
objectives listed are complementary. We believe that the key to
success lies in a management philosophy that sets out to balance
complementary interests. Such an approach allows local balances
and resolutions that meet local priorities in the context of a
national policy of appropriate multiple use.
3.15 We believe that this balanced approach
is strengthened and made secure by effective regulation.
3.16 We are carrying out this balanced approach
in practice in the restoration of the Rochdale Canal in partnership
with English Nature. The Rochdale Canal is an SSSI and potential
Special Area of Conservation under the Habitats Directive as it
supports substantial populations of the water plant, the floating
leafed water plantain. We have contracted British Waterways to
manage the restoration and subsequent maintenance of the canal.
All the partners involved subscribe to the philosophy of the balanced
approach leading to sustainable development. The result is a plan
for restoration which commands broad support from experts and
3.17 We are keen to work with other navigation
owners and managers to share experience and develop this approach.
We are members of the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities
and will work with their members including the Environment Agency
and Broads Authority to take this approach forward.
Whether the Waterways for Tomorrow policy
document contains adequate policies and mechanisms to ensure its
goals are achieved, and in particular whether funding for the
stabilisation and development of inland waterways including revenue
from licensing and regeneration and other monies is adequate
3.18 We believe that Waterways for Tomorrow
contains good policies which have correctly assessed the potential
of the inland waterways.
3.19 Historically, the waterways have been
underfunded. A backlog of maintenance arrears has built up on
waterways managed by British Waterways and the Environment Agency.
Waterways for Tomorrow recognises this. There has also
been a historic lack of capital investment available to the waterways.
Waterways for Tomorrow also recognises that organisations
such as British Waterways have been starved of capital investment
3.20 A backlog of maintenance arrears causes
concern about the long term viability of the waterway network
which jeopardises potential partnerships. We therefore believe
that it is essential to secure the basic maintenance of the waterways
if the potential identified by Waterways for Tomorrow is
to be realised sustainably.
3.21 We note with satisfaction the government's
support in Waterways for Tomorrow for British Waterways'
aim to eliminate its backlog as quickly as possible. We also welcome
the additional financial resources that the government has been
able to make available to British Waterways to begin the reduction
of the maintenance backlog.
3.22 We note however, with great concern,
that British Waterways has stated in its Plan for the Future 2000-04
that the funding available will not allow it to meet its statutory
obligations within an acceptable timescale. It is a matter of
further concern that, at the time this submission was made, there
was still no announcement of forward government spending plans
to tackle elimination of arrears for British Waterways or the
3.23 The Waterways Trust is proactive in
seeking funds to assist with waterway causes which fit well into
the policy framework of Waterways for Tomorrow. However,
we ask the Committee to note that:
the funding sources in the voluntary
sector are inadequate in scale to tackle the elimination of arrears;
in any case voluntary sector funding
cannot legally substitute for government funding; and
our market research shows that the
public will not donate to the core maintenance function which
they believe should properly be funded by Government.
3.24 We call on the government to provide
planned funding to eliminate the arrears of maintenance of both
British Waterways and the Environment Agency within an acceptable
The structure of ownership of waterways and the
roles and responsibilities of those agencies involved in their
protection and maintenance, and any conflicts of interest
3.25 It is widely acknowledged that the
ownership of waterways in the United Kingdom is largely a result
of historical accident. The question which the Committee should
therefore address, in the opinion of The Waterways Trust, is the
one of the best structure for achieving the aims of Waterways
3.26 We are concerned that the fragmentation
of management of the waterway network is a disincentive to public
participation in the waterways, fundraising for the waterways,
and the progress of regenerative projects. Projects sponsors and
funders including the general public are confused by these arrangements.
Consolidation and clarification of the roles of the various players
involved in the waterway management, operation and regulation
would facilitate project planning, partnership building, as well
as fundraising from commercial and voluntary sources
3.27 We believe that this consolidation
should be based on a separation of operational and regulatory
roles, so that the necessary specialisms associated with each
are better developed and their implications clearly understood.
3.28 Given The Waterways Trust's support
for realising the full range of potential benefits set out in
the Committee's first question, we support management structures
which allow this to happen. We believe that the kind of management
framework that specialised operators and managers like British
Waterways can provide is best suited to realising the potential
of the waterways to the full and in a sustainable manner.
3.29 We also support strong and focused
regulation of such navigation authorities. The Environment Agency
is well placed to provide this, although they currently combine
both roles on some navigations.
3.30 The Environment Agency's navigation
functions are the subject of review as part of the government's
quinquennial review of the Agency. We will submit evidence to
3.31 We welcome the government's recognition
of the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities and the extension
of the role of the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council.
We believe that both bodies have an important role to play in
the stimulation of ideas and the dissemination of best practice.
3.32 Finally, there is a wide variety of
legislation governing waterways, dating from the 18th to the late
20th centuries. Whilst, with ingenuity, it is often possible to
work under this legislation in circumstances unforeseen by its
drafters, The Waterways Trust believes that it would be helpful
in the long term for government to review and rationalise the
legislation, removing in the process outdated impediments, to
the achievement of the potential of the waterways to improve the
lives of millions of people in this country.