Following the damage to the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir as a result of torrential rain on 1st August, the subsequent evacuation of Whaley Bridge and the operation to reduce the water level in the reservoir to a safe level, we have written to the Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, Minister of State in the Department for Food & Rural Affairs with responsibility for the inland waterways.
The letter highlights the importance of government funding in ensuring that historic structures such as reservoirs and embankments are maintained in optimum condition, in order to avoid greater costs (as well as the threat to life and property) when failures occur, particularly in the light of the ongoing extremes in weather patterns that the UK has been experiencing in recent years as a result of global warming.
Climate change is likely to bring greater pressure on historic and fragile infrastructure such as reservoirs and embankments. We have asked Dr Coffey, whose ministerial responsibilities also include flooding and climate change, to ensure that adequate funding is allocated so that these assets are maintained to the necessary standard in order to minimise the dangers from failure in the future.
Steve Warwicker, chairman of IWA’s Navigation Committee met with HMRC on 28th August, along with RYA and other key coastal and inland waterways interests, which provided an opportunity to press our concerns on any ban on the sale of red diesel for propulsion of private pleasure craft, especially if it were to be rushed through.
The key concern is the cost and work involved for boat yards to install additional supply tanks for white diesel, or to convert existing storage facilities, which would be neither cheap, quick nor easy, and the consequence of which would appear likely to be a reduction in the number of boatyards stocking diesel for resale to boaters. This has implications of boaters having to lug cans of fuel around from roadside fuel stations with potential environmental and safety risks. There would also be the impracticability and cost for boaters to fit a second diesel tank to their vessel for separate diesel supplies for cooking and heating should they wish to continue to use untaxed red diesel for this purpose.
The cause of the proposed new requirements is a ruling from the European courts following a complaint from the Belgian government that it was difficult for them to detect people illegally using untaxed red diesel in Belgium if its sale was still permitted in Britain. As sales of red diesel for propulsion are already taxed at the same rate as for white diesel, there is no intended revenue benefit to HMRC from the proposed change, and thus HMRC regard it as revenue neutral, albeit some boaters may find having separate tanks for heating and lighting all too difficult and be prepared to pay the additional cost for white diesel for heating and lighting regardless of it not being legally required.
HMRC has indicated that it has received a substantial response to its consultation, which IWA and others have strongly encouraged from boaters and others affected by the potential changes. HMRC has listened carefully to our concerns and has indicated its sympathy with the issues raised. Brexit may well have an impact on the situation. If there is a ‘No Deal Brexit’ then the proposed changes to sale of red diesel will be paused until the situation becomes clearer. Even if there is a deal, then the situation could still be unclear and would need ministerial review, and would unlikely be the highest priority on their agenda. It also appears that HMRC are now persuaded of the need for a long implementation period if there is any change in regulations. HMRC has also hinted that enforcement action, if changes are implemented, will, as now, be on a risk based approach – for example, it is likely that boating will be considered a lower risk and less enforcement unless other issues, such as suppliers licences, come into play.
There is still time (until 9th September) to respond to HMRC’s consultation to add your weight to IWA’s lobby on this issue.
Temperatures reached a record high over the August Bank Holiday weekend (24th - 26th August) at IWA Festival of Water in the Lee Valley Regional Park, Waltham Abbey.
Over 100 boats turned up for the event, all decked out in their festival bunting. They made an impressive sight as they were moored up along the banks of the Lee Navigation. This free family-friendly event was packed full of activities, music and entertainment for boaters, campers and visitors to enjoy in the sunshine.
The illuminated boat procession on Sunday evening didn’t disappoint, with a long line of boats all lit up against the darkening skies.
A festival favourite is always the free Learn to Drive a Digger sessions run by IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group, and many young visitors loved their taster session, with lots of them promising to become digger drivers when they grow up.
During the event, Steve Bragger of Vibrant Partnerships handed over the Tiller Pin Trophy to Cllr James Stanley from Worcester City Council. The handover ceremony marks the fact that Worcester will host next year's IWA Festival of Water on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Booking forms for boaters and campers will be available soon.
This summer, close to 250 volunteers have been working on canal restoration projects around the UK. Starting with the Easter camp and working through until October, volunteers from IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group have already spent over 10,000 hours helping to restore derelict canals across England and Wales. So far, these have included the Lichfield Canal, Grantham Canal, Wey & Arun Canal, Derby Canal, River Waveney and Cotswold Canals.
Volunteers, from the UK and abroad, have been working on canal restoration sites helping to clear vegetation, excavate canal channels, repoint and rebuild heritage brickwork including a towpath wall on the Lichfield Canal and, in the case of the Grantham Canal, to support the work of Grantham Canal Society in their final push to restore Lock 14.
Some volunteers have taken part in Canal Camps before, but many are first time volunteers who were keen to give their time to canal restoration and to learn new skills and meet new people.
If you are interested booking a Canal Camp for later this year, please see view a full list of camps and dates. To find out more, please call 01494 783453 and speak to Alex Melson on Ext 607.
Taking a boat through a tunnel can be an exciting element of any canal journey but navigating tunnels can be tricky. We have contributed to a video recently launched by Canal & River Trust on how to use tunnels safely.
Canal tunnels vary in length and width. Some can be very short, such as Dunsley on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal which is just 23 metres, or they can be very long indeed such as Standedge and Dudley tunnels, at 5000 metres and 2900 metres respectively, where special arrangements are in place to allow passage. Some longer canal tunnels have one-way working systems, where passing two boats isn’t possible, but others, where they are wide enough, allow two-way passage at any time.
Our own briefing note about Navigating Tunnels Safely is worth reading alongside the video as it contains additional information about two-way in tunnels and advice concerning small unpowered craft such as canoes.
You can find IWA's briefing note about navigating tunnels safely on the IWA website.
IWA West Country Branch, along with the Friends of Exeter Ship Canal, is supporting a funding application which would bring benefits to boaters, cyclists and pedestrians in Exeter.
The application was made at the end of July to the Department for Transport’s National Roads Fund Programme to fund improvements to the A379 Exeter Outer Ring Road. The key aspect of this involves replacement of the existing steel swing bridge and the bascule bridge that take the A379 dual carriageway across the Exeter Ship Canal, both of which are approaching the end of their lives and need renewing within the next ten years. Representations have been made for the height of the bridges to be raised to enable more boating to take place without the bridges being opened and to facilitate cyclists and pedestrians to pass under the bridges rather than having to cross the busy 4-lane carriageway.
If the application is approved, construction could start in 2025 and be completed by 2027.
Thank you to everyone who has submitted photographs in our 2019 Photo Competition. We invited both amateur and professional photographers to send in their favourite images and have received some wonderful shots. Judging is now in full swing to pick our shortlist. Each category is being looked at in turn with one winning image and up to three runners-up being chosen. All shortlisted images will be entered into a public vote to find one overall prize winner. See our next Bulletin for updates and to vote for your favourite images.
Our 2020 calendars are now in stock and look fantastic with a stunning array of photos depicting canal scenes through the seasons. There are two sizes to choose from.
The Large Calendar is A4 size and illustrated with full page scenes. It is one month to view with space for daily notes. Measuring 297mm x 210mm approximately, it opens to 297mm x 420mm approximately at full length.
The Portrait Postcard Calendar is one month to view with space for daily notes. The calendar measures 170mm x 310mm approx. Each month is illustrated with a waterway scene in a detachable postcard format.
Visit our online shop to purchase a new 2020 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
Calcutt Boats - 5% online discount
Channelglaze Ltd. - 10% discount on double glazing
Cotswold Outdoor - 10% discount
Willowbridge Marina - 10% discount on chandlery purchases and services in the yard
River Canal Rescue - up to 15% discount
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
We have been looking at ways to provide more benefits to the waterways and everyone who uses them, and have extended our insurance offer to help you find the best available cover for your boat, your home and your car. Every policy purchased or renewed helps IWA, allowing us to further our charitable work for the waterways.
See more information about the IWA insurance schemes 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
Take part in the mystery photo challenge and submit your answer here.
See the answer and those that guessed correctly for the previous mystery challenge!