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

Supplementary memorandum by The Inland Waterways Association (IW 29A)


  The Inland Waterways Association suggests that a revision or legislation is required for the following areas. We have not, at the stage, attempted to identify specific references in existing Acts or Statutory Instruments.

  The category of "remainder" waterways, created under Section 104(c) of the 1968 Transport Act, is no longer appropriate, since this was intended only as a temporary measure whilst the future of these waterways was debated. Their use has grown enormously over the years since 1968, and they are now used to an extent similar to "cruising waterways". The measures by which "remainder waterways" can be transferred to other categories are cumbersome, were designed with a different purpose in mind, and have not worked well in recent years. The category should be removed and those navigable waterways currently classed as "remainder" should be reclassified as "cruising waterways".

  Towing paths on British Waterways' canals and river navigations should be specifically referred to as being part of a waterway, so that any maintenance obligations extend to them. At present, there is uncertainty with regard to BW's duties in the maintenance of towing paths, and so such work can rely either on the goodwill of local authority contributions or on British Waterways extending its remit beyond its current perceived powers.

  Since the 1968 Transport Act, there have been a number of British Waterways private acts, some of these, containing provisions more appropriate to a Public General Act (eg the provisions extending and modifying British Waterways' powers and duties relating to the environment. There is a need for a consolidating public Act.

  The Minister has unofficially extended the role of the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council in Waterways for Tomorrow to cover waterways other than those owned by British Waterways. This extension should be recognised in legislation since Section 110 of the 1968 Transport Act limits the Council's duties.

  British Waterways has become increasingly involved in the restoration of waterways, development of adjacent waterside land and other proactive ventures that benefit the community, especially where economic benefits justify investment. British Waterways should have clear powers to construct new waterways, to enlarge existing ones, to develop adjacent waterside property and to restore derelict canals. Such powers would need to be carefully defined to protect both Government and waterway users, but without these powers, as at present, British Waterways is disadvantaged from competing with the private sector on an equal basis.

  British Waterways should have the power to apply for an order to become navigation authority of a (de facto) navigable waterway. At present, the Environment Agency has greater powers than British Waterways for taking on new navigation responsibilities.

  The new duties and powers detailed in the "Framework Document for British Waterways" published by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions in February 1999, should be incorporated into new legislation, including:

    —  the duty to maintain waterways to standards that reflect "prospects of use" (paragraph 6.1),

    —  the duty to maintain the water channel and environs (paragraph 6.2),

    —  the duty to maintain assets, such as bridges and embankments, in a safe and sustainable condition (paragraph 6.4), and

    —  the power to retain disposal proceeds from the sale of investment properties and carry them in to the following financial year.

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