Hot off the press is news of the announcement from Scottish Government on 28th June that additional funding of £1.6 million has been found to carry out repairs to Bonnybridge and Twechar lift bridges on the Forth & Clyde Canal, and also to carry out further work to Ardrishaig Pier (all issues that we have been campaigning about). We hope this will mean a swift reopening of the Forth & Clyde Canal as a through route from coast to coast across the Scottish lowlands.
We are, however, extremely concerned about the future of the Lowland Canals, following the recent publication of Scottish Canals' Asset Management Strategy, which suggests that sections of the Lowland Canals could face permanent closure.
The Forth & Clyde and Union canals were restored as a Millennium project, with funding from the Millennium Commission, European Regional Development Fund, Scottish Enterprise and local authorities. The Millennium Commission and European grants included conditions that the canals must be maintained to cruising standard for up to 25 years. The canals were reopened just 17 years ago.
Photo: The Kelpies - Forth & Clyde Canal by Pauline McGill
As recently as 2011 the Scottish Government re-classified the Lowland Canals as Cruising Waterways, thus placing a statutory duty on the Board to maintain them for cruising vessels, in order to protect the investment made in restoring them.
Scottish Canals argues that the Lowland Canals are not being used sufficiently to justify keeping them open, but a lack of dredging and poor maintenance – together with recent closures and restrictions – will have contributed to a reduction in use. In our view the level of use should not be a significant factor in whether or not a waterway is kept open, as a vibrant waterway is kept alive by boats using it, and this in turn brings benefits in terms of improved health and wellbeing for the local population, as well as income through recreation, tourism and regeneration.
Scottish Canals should be doing everything it can to keep the Lowland Canals fully open, and this should include using some of the revenue raised from their property and tourism investments, which is currently not being spent on the core function of maintaining the waterways, despite an expectation from the Scottish Government that it should do so.
Two locations on the Lowland Canals are included in IWA's Silver Propeller Challenge, and we would encourage everyone based locally or visiting the area this year to make use of these waterways in any way they can, to help demonstrate the importance of maintaining them in a navigable condition.
Canal & River Trust has launched its long awaited strategy about London moorings, which outlines proposed improvements to moorings and facilities in the capital.
Photo: Hertford Union Canal by Roger Squires
The strategy reports that there are now over 4000 boats on London's waterways, with a year on year increase likely to be in the region of between 35% and 52% by 2022. This follows an increase of 76% over the last 6 years, which is putting tremendous pressure on the few existing facilities and visitor moorings. The proposed (but subject to planning permissions) 1800 metres of new offside residential moorings would cater for approximately 150 boats (assuming an average length of 12 metres), which perhaps equates to the number of boats that may arrive in London over the next six months.
We are interested in hearing what you, our members, think about CRT's London Mooring Strategy and its proposals, ahead of a meeting with CRT in mid July where the strategy will be discussed. Let us know your views. CRT's full report, with a detailed breakdown of the proposed improvements, can be found on CRT's website.
Should the themes "Restore, Regenerate, Reimagine" capture your interest, this year's World Canals Conference could be the destination for you. Taking place between 10th-12th September 2018, in Athlone, Ireland, the conference will showcase Ireland's many restoration and re-imagining projects in a three day event where delegates can update their knowledge of innovative waterways management experiences and techniques from all over the world. Delegates enjoy a range of both formal and informal opportunities to share and exchange experiences, technical solutions and learnings and there is a social programme for guests who may be attending alongside delegates.
IWA's Mike Palmer MBE, IWA trustee and Chairman of Waterway Recovery Group has been named a keynote speaker. As a dedicated waterways restoration volunteer who has spent the last 25 years using his enthusiasm and passion to help restore many derelict locks and sections of canal across England and Wales - from Aston Locks on the Montgomery Canal to the Droitwich Barge Lock in the Midlands, Mike is uniquely placed to enthuse audiences around the conference key themes.
To find out more about this year's World Canal Conference keynote speeches and to book your place go to the Conference website.
Funding, facilities, licencing and restoration were on the agenda for a meeting with senior management at the Environment Agency on 30th May, where Ivor Caplan, Neil Edwards and Alison Smedley representing IWA met Harvey Bradshaw (Executive Director for Environment & Business), Gillian Pratt (Deputy Director of Future Regulation) and Irven Forbes (Waterway Manager, Anglian Waterways).
Harvey Bradshaw explained that following the announcement from Defra earlier in the year that the potential transfer of EA navigations to Canal & River Trust would not proceed at the current time, EA had decided that whilst they would continue to work with CRT to share understanding (and they would always be open and ready for the transfer should it happen), a fresh approach at how they looked at navigation was required. Badged as "Navigating Forward", the new strategy will see EA focus on delivering good service to users and look at different ways of raising income to support navigation. We welcome this new approach and have offered help and support in various ways.
We raised concerns about a number of ongoing closures preventing navigation which are in breach of the EA's statutory obligations. Our current campaign about boaters' facilities campaign was explained, and EA confirmed that they would welcome the findings of the GapTracker survey later in the year. EA explained their proposed registration fee increases and we stressed the importance of keeping the cost of licensing smaller craft affordable. The impact of EA's stringent requirements relating to abstraction licences and flood defence consents on waterway restoration societies was also discussed, and EA offered to provide central points of contact for waterway organisations through IWA's Restoration Hub.
More than 40 locations have now been plotted on a map to help boaters, canoeists, rowers and paddleboarders to plan their Silver Propeller Challenge adventures. Participants need to visit 20 different places on our list to receive our special plaque.
We want to see boats and people visiting areas all across our wonderful canals and rivers, particularly the quieter locations and far flung reaches. There are lots of popular spots for boaters and other visitors on the waterways, but there are still lots of locations where you would be lucky to see even one boat in a week, let alone in a day. If there are no boats, whole sections of waterways will lose their charm and appeal for everyone. This challenge aims to encourage our members and others to visit and use those places that aren't reached as often as others.
Explore some of the UK's finest scenery and find out more about the Silver Propeller Challenge.
We have been continuing our support for the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterways Trust in their campaign to prevent the A421 road widening scheme (as reported in Bulletin) from adversely affecting the scheme for a new waterway to connect the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes to the Great Ouse in Bedford.
Along with many others, we have written to MPs, the Secretary of State for Transport and to Central Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes councils seeking support for providing a culvert as part of the A421 scheme. All the local MPs have expressed their support for the Waterway Park but the response which we, B&MKWT and MPs have received is extremely disappointing. The Department for Transport puts the matter of funding a culvert squarely back in the hands of Milton Keynes and Central Bedfordshire Councils who are responsible for the road project, particularly Central Bedfordshire who are project managing it. The response from the two Local Authorities is that given wider financial pressures there is simply no funding.
B&MKWT has met with and briefed a number of Central Bedfordshire Councillors whose support for the Waterway remains very strong. However, given current financial pressures a culvert is simply not a priority for funding. The Council has made it clear that the road project has been aligned to facilitate future provision for the waterway and will not block the route.
The Trust, with IWA's support, is continuing to press for a solution. It may well be possible to make provision in the future but at a much greater cost and with significant traffic management impacts on the upgraded A421. A new Oxford to Cambridge Expressway is proposed as part of the new infrastructure for the corridor. The broad route for the Expressway is due to be announced later this year and may have implications for the upgraded A421 such that further work may be required. This may present another opportunity to find a way forward and ensure the Waterway route is fully integrated into local and strategic infrastructure.
B&MKWT is extremely grateful for the huge amount of support they have received from IWA and others on this matter and this has provided the Trust with opportunities to promote the Waterway to a much wider audience than previously. B&MKWT, with the support of IWA, will now focus on maintaining the profile that this issue has given the Waterway Park and building a business case to ensure it is integrated into the Oxford/Milton Keynes/Cambridge corridor.
Three projects to open up nearly four miles of waterway have now been completed. The projects, which saw three locks restored and a water gate replaced, were beneficiaries from a £200,000 bequest by former IWA honorary consultant engineer and trustee, Tony Harrison. Tony, who was an expert in hydraulics and hydrology in his professional life, supported IWA's restoration activities for over twenty years.
The latest completion is the restoration of Thornton and Walbut Lock on the Pocklington Canal, returning two miles of the waterway to navigation for the first time in nearly a century. Massive lock gates were replaced on the Grade II Listed structures complete with a distinctive six-spoked paddle gear wheel, a feature of the Pocklington Canal. IWA Chief Executive, Neil Edwards, and Mary Harrison, Tony's widow, will be attending the formal opening of the two locks on 25th July. Led by Pocklington Canal Amenity Society, in partnership with Canal & River Trust, the opening of the locks is a key milestone in bringing the whole of the 9 ½ mile Pocklington Canal back into use by boaters.
Walbut lock, Pocklington Canal (c) PCAS
Work has also been completed on St Mary's Lock on the River Stour; Mary Harrison and Chris Howes, IWA Eastern Region Chairman, attended the opening ceremony in May. The restoration of the River Stour was one of three projects mentioned by IWA founders in 1946 and Stratford St Mary Lock is the last remaining lock on the navigation that could be restored for the present. The opening of the lock extends the currently navigable section of the river by a further 1.75 miles.
At the head of the Cromford Canal, a water gate has been replaced to permit a more reliable and regulated water supply, which will help the Friends of the Cromford Canal to run their passenger trip boat. Funds raised from the boat trips will support the restoration of the Canal.
Work has not yet started on the fourth project, which is to restore the infilled Schoolhouse Bridge on the Montgomery Canal, but the project will be a major boost to restoring a two-mile length of the canal through to Llanymynech, and ultimately to reconnecting Welshpool to the national canal network.
The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) has issued a warning about non-working imported carbon monoxide (CO) alarms sold on internet shopping sites, and is cautioning boaters that choosing the right CO alarm is an especially critical decision as boats can fill in minutes, sometimes seconds, with lethal levels of the highly toxic gas.
The BSS has teamed up with the CoGDEM (Council of Gas Detection & Environment Monitoring) to urge boaters to choose one from the list of CO alarms suitable for boats as recommended by the makers of independently certified products – the list can be found on the home page of the BSS website.
Incident reports collected by the BSS show that properly certified CO alarms have repeatedly protected skippers and crews from the hidden dangers of CO and ought to be regarded as part of the boat's essential safety equipment.
Over 100 boats have booked into our IWA Festival of Water taking place at St Neots in Cambridgeshire over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Moorings are now full but you can still spend the weekend with us by booking a campsite pitch for just £30 for the weekend including evening entertainment.
Photo: Festival site, photo courtsey St Neots Town Council.
There will be attractions for all the family and boats lining the mile of River Great Ouse that flows past Regatta Meadow. The festival in St Neots, on the River Great Ouse, will highlight some of the valuable work IWA is doing to find solutions to the funding threats affecting waterways throughout the Anglian region, and encourage boaters to cruise the under visited Middle Level Navigations.
A full programme of entertainments is planned including canoeing and paddle boarding sessions from Action4Youth and boat trips by the Bedford and Milton Keynes Trust. Keep an eye out for the Boat Handling competition or join us on Sunday evening for the illuminated Boat Display and firework display.
Children can ride the funfair, slide down the helter-skelter, have a go at water zorbing in the pool or drive the Carz of Fun. The park will be alive with nature - find out about the birds of prey and watch the novelty dog show. Big and little kids can find out what it's like to be a canal restoration volunteer and have a taste of driving a real digger with IWA's Waterway Recovery Group. Younger children can grab their passports and hunt the festival site for special clues and stamps.
And then when it's time to relax, you'll be able to grab a bite to eat and a drink from the bar and be entertained with live music and dance.
Find out more and book your campsite pitch for the weekend.
Family orientated canal volunteering weekends have returned for their second year with the first of three weekends organised by Waterway Recovery Group taking place. The first WRG family camp of the year was hosted by the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust on the Uttoxeter Canal over the weekend of 9th & 10th June.
Five families took part, with a total of seven children ranging in age from 8 to 13, accompanied by their parents or grandparents. Work, which was based around the Crumpwood area of the Canal, near Denstone in Staffordshire, included vegetation clearance, building and installing bird boxes, clearing invasive Himalayan balsam (with a competition for the best sculpture made out of it), a nature walk to carry out a survey of wildlife in the area, and installing some bollards alongside Carringtons Lock.
The young people taking part were very enthusiastic about the weekend and commented: "Bird boxes, balsam and bollards – it had everything!" (Jonathan), "We learnt a lot of new skills this weekend which will be useful in the future" (Georgina), "I enjoyed it all but most exciting was finding a dragonfly nymph on the nature walk" (Peter).
The family camp was funded by a grant of £2000 from Tesco's Bags of Help Scheme, following the residents of Uttoxeter voting for the project earlier in the year. Accommodation for the weekend was at Smallwood Manor, a former boarding school south of Uttoxeter, where the Saturday evening saw families enjoying a sociable barbecue.
There are still spaces available on the remaining two Family Camps for 2018. These will take place on the Grantham Canal from 17th to 19th August, where families will be camping, and on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation from 31st August to 2nd September where the accommodation will be on board the Haybay barge.
Find out more about Family Canal Camps.
It's the prime pulling season for invasive species Himalayan balsam. You can help to stem the spread of this destructive plant by pulling up a few plants while you are out and about along the waterways. The plant is best removed during June and July before the seed pods have developed.
Here's what to do:
Pull - Check our Himalayan Balsam identification guide to be certain that it is Himalayan balsam and then pull up individual balsam stems – they pull up very easily,
Snap – break off the root below the lowest growing node,
Stomp - Put into a small pile to rot down, away from the path. Bigger piles can be stamped on to assist the rotting process – small children love doing this and it makes a great sound!
Find out more about our Himalayan balsam campaign.
Help raise the public's awareness of Himalayan Balsam and the problems it causes by sharing our posts on Facebook and Twitter and using Hashtag #PullSnapStomp.
You can also join us on one of our work parties taking place around the country.
A lock on the Grantham Canal has been given a new lease of life having received new gates. Volunteers from our Waterway Recovery Group and Grantham Canal Society supported by Canal & River Trust, spent three years rebuilding Lock 15 near Stenwith.
It's exciting to see another lock restored, particularly one that we have been so involved with behind the scenes. As well as practical support, tools, equipment and transport through our WRG volunteers, the project has benefitted from insurance arranged through IWA and support from us for the Heritage Lottery Fund funding bid.
Photo courtesy Canal & River Trust.
This is the first of two derelict locks which received an award from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Attention is now shifting to lock 14 with WRG Canal Camps taking place this summer.
Spaces are still available on the week-long Canal Camp working holidays taking place in August. Find out more about the Canal Camps.
IWA West Country Branch is this year increasing the campaign for the regeneration of Bridgwater Docks and in particular for the restoration of the Barge Lock and the Bascule Bridge in order that navigation can once again take place from the River Parrett to Bridgwater Docks and thus also to the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.
Bridgwater Docks, but not the Bascule Bridge, is leased by Canal & River Trust from Somerset County Council under a 21-year lease which expires in July 2020. The lease includes, inter alia, obligations for CRT to maintain the Docks including its lock gates, fixtures and fittings in a fully usable condition. We are campaigning for the future of the Docks to be addressed and for CRT to fulfil its obligations under the lease, including restoration of both the Barge Lock and Newtown Lock.
We are also campaigning for the regeneration of the Bascule Bridge, a unique heritage asset within Somerset that was opened in 1841 in conjunction with the Docks. We have drawn the attention of Somerset County Council to the damaging effect that heavy goods vehicles are having on the spans of the bridge and on its stone and brick supports (there is a 3-tonne weight limit). The Council is arranging for a specialist engineering inspection of the bridge, as a first step in determining what remedial works are required. We have requested that the inspection also covers the work that may be needed to fully reinstate the operation of the spans of the bridge, which it is understood were last raised some 15 years ago.
Seven narrowboats formed a convoy in March, Cambridgeshire over the Easter weekend to review facilities and mooring availability in the local area.
The boats cruised to Whittlesey via the Twenty Foot and Infields Bridge, and up to the Junction with Whittlesey Dyke. lnfield's Bridge on the Twenty Foot proved to be a challenge, with a listed headroom of 1.6m at normal levels and the water at winter levels. All boats made it through, but with millimetres to spare.
A planned cruise to Ramsey to highlight the lack of moorings was abandoned due to flooding, and a set of gate paddles needing attention was highlighted. The group finished the cruise at "The George" at Ramsey Forty Foot.
To find out what branch activities and working parties are going on in your area have a look at IWA's events calendar. By volunteering for these clean up events you can make a big difference to your local waterway. You can also search by event type or find out what's going in on your area with the map search.
To advertise your restoration/cleanup events in the bulletin please add details to IWA's events calendar
Many of the offers below can be claimed simply by using your IWA membership card. For others, log in or phone the membership team on 01494 783453 for details.
Please note: All discounts and offers are entirely at the organisers' discretion.
Boatshed Grand Union - 10% discount on brokerage
Boat Windows Ltd - 5% discount
Calcutt Boats - 5% online discount
Channelglaze Ltd. - 5% discount on double glazing
Cotswold Outdoor - 10% discount
Willowbridge Marina - 10% discount on chandlery purchases and services in the yard
Zead - Free Postage & Accessories worth up to £16 when buying a Z-200 WiFi Adapter or Z-250 3.5G Dongle
For IWA members who receive a printed copy of this bulletin in the post, please contact the membership team on 01494 783453 for the details of the offers.
Members can also support IWA with a Narrow Boat magazine subscription
IWA has an arrangement with insurers Navigators & General and River Canal Rescue that provides top quality boat insurance and access to the basic waterway rescue service for boat owners, with the added benefit that every policy taken out and subsequently renewed helps IWA, and thus furthers our charitable work for the waterways.
See more information about the IWA insurance scheme for boaters
It is so easy to do your shopping via easyfundraising. Every time you do, a percentage will be donated to IWA and it will cost you absolutely nothing extra.
There are over 3,100 shops and sites for you to browse and buy through on the easyfundraising site. Usually the thing that stops people raising money in this way for their favourite charity is that they simply forget. Since we launched IWA onto easyfundraising we have raised over £1000 so it is a brilliant way to support IWA. Find out more about easyfundraising.
How to remind yourself to raise money for IWA via easyfundraising:
By using the app, the reminder toolbar or shopping through the easyfundraising site, you can help IWA raise hundreds and hopefully thousands of pounds.
IWA Head Office, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA
01494 783 453
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