Middle Level Bill clears final hurdle26 October 2018
On 16th October 2018 the Middle Level Bill successfully passed through the House of Commons for the final time.
In 2016 the governing body, the Middle Level Commissioners (MLC) introduced a Private Bill to Parliament to bring MLC in line with other navigation authorities by enabling better waterway management powers and increased provision of facilities and moorings in connection with their navigation function.
The Bill now just needs Royal Assent to formalise it as an Act of Parliament. For the first time boats on the Level will be subject to Registration, and the need to prove they have liability insurance and are compliant with current boat safety standards. The new law will allow the Commissioners to remove sunken or abandoned boats, and generate income to be invested back into boating facilities. Under the new legislation MLC will use published guidance from IWA to set the standards to which facilities must be provided, with 25% of boating income to be invested for this purpose.
MLC is the navigation authority for the Middle Level river system, which comprises 100 miles of navigable waterways in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. The Middle Level is a network of mainly man made drains and rivers which keeps Fenland free from flooding. It broadly covers land, much of it below sea level, between the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse. The legislation which governs it had not been modified for over 150 years and did not recognise leisure boating, which has grown in popularity since the last war.
MLC will at last be able to register up-to-date bye-laws with DEFRA and establish a Navigation Committee. The Commissioners embrace volunteering, and are currently looking at how they can introduce a scheme to promote greater public involvement in the preservation and enhancement of their waterways.