As the year draws to an end, we take a look back at what we've achieved this year with the support of our members, donors and volunteers. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to our campaigns over the last twelve months.
2018 started with positive news in January. Our campaign to save the river frontage at Ely from being sold to private investors to ensure everyone could still benefit from it was a success, with ownership kept in the public sector.
However this news was quickly followed by an announcement from Scottish Canals that bridges would be closed on the Forth & Clyde Canal, blocking the coast to coast navigation. We have lobbied Scottish Canals throughout the year, and as a result the bridges are being repaired and more money unlocked to invest in the navigations. See the latest update below. Further noise mitigation has been achieved for HS2 where the high speed railway passes close to or over our inland waterways, particularly along the Trent & Mersey Canal.
Photo: One of the traditional manually operated bascule bridges on the Forth & Clyde Canal that was closed to Navigation - Bard Avenue Bascule Bridge. Photo by Jonathan Mosse.
We have continued to campaign for more funding for Environment Agency navigations and for the transfer of them to Canal & River Trust as a solution. Negotiations are still ongoing. Anglian Waterways managed by EA have been a focus for us this year, with multiple campaign cruises on the Old Bedford River to reopen Welches Dam Lock and our IWA Festival of Water on the River Great Ouse in St Neots. The Festival also saw the launch of proposals for a new Boston to Peterborough Wetland Corridor.
Photo: IWA Festival of Water in St Neots. Photo by Tim Lewis.
Photo: Campaign Cruise on the Old Bedford River. Flotilla reaches the closed lock at Welches Dam. Photo by Mike Daines.
May saw the hottest IWA Canalway Cavalcade on record with 140 boats lining the canals at Little Venice in London.
We launched our Silver Propeller Challenge in March to encourage people with boats and other craft to visit lesser used waterways. More people will be encouraged to take on the challenge in 2019 with more locations to visit added to the list. Find out more about how you can take part in the Silver Propeller Challenge.
Our GapTracker campaign was launched at the end of May to record and improve boaters' facilities nationwide. Over 400 responses have been received to date and we will be using the findings as part of our discussions with Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency and other navigation authorities.
Throughout the summer, IWA's Waterway Recovery Group ran Canal Camps on restoration projects from the Wey & Arun Canal in the south to the Lancaster Canal in the north with over 200 volunteers taking part. Families also got a taste of action with Camps specially designed with activities to cater for parents and children. More Family Camps are planned in 2019.
Photo: Inglesham Lock
Our branches have also been out and about improving waterways through work parties, installing mooring rings, inspiring new people to experience our inland waterways through walks and talks and supporting local restoration groups as well as other campaigns. For example, our IWA Northampton Branch launched a Mosaic Trail along the 5 mile Northampton Arm featuring 34 designs, and later in the year commissioned a mural involving local school children. IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch also had success with the removal of a blockage on the Dee Branch although some other navigation issues remain.
Photo: Mural on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal. Photo by Geoff Wood
Red Diesel has been a subject of our campaigns since 2008 and the latest development is a ruling by the European Court of Justice against its use for leisure boating. We are in discussions with HMRC and will continue to work with British Marine and the Royal Yachting Association to campaign for the impact of this judgement on boat owners and boatyard operators to be minimised.
Although government hasn't made progress to better fund EA waterways or arrange the transfer of them, it has given the Middle Level Bill Royal Assent, bringing the Middle Level Commissioners in line with other navigation authorities by enabling better waterway management powers and increased provision of facilities and moorings.
Throughout the year our IWA Restoration Hub has been working on our Waterways in Progress report which will be launched in early 2019.
Next year we will continue our work to protect and restore 6,500 miles of inland waterways. If you think our work is worthwhile and you aren't already involved, perhaps you might consider joining us as a member, making a donation or supporting us as a volunteer.
Our submission to the Scottish Parliament outlining our concerns was mentioned on Scottish Parliament TV on 20th December when the Public Petitions Committee considered again the petition for a Scottish waterways ombudsman.
The petitioner, the Lowland Canals Association, had also welcomed our submission in writing.
Photo: Collapsing banks on the Forth & Clyde Canal summit, photo by Richard Davies.
Whilst the Petitions Committee didn't reach a conclusion regarding an ombudsman, they acknowledged the problems relating to the impact on tourism, the potential waste of the £98 million of public money spent on the Millennium Link, and the £70m backlog of maintenance and agreed to invite Scottish Canals to give evidence at a future meeting.
Just before Christmas there was some good news when Scottish Canals announced that they had secured £350,000 of funding from Sustrans that will get Leamington Lift Bridge operational for the summer of 2019. We welcome this announcement as it recognises the heritage value of the bridge as well as the importance of reinstating navigation to the very end of the canal in Edinburgh, which is also an IWA Silver Propeller location.
Meanwhile repairs on the Forth & Clyde Canal are progressing, with repairs to Bonnybridge and Twechar Lift Bridges underway, along with repairs to Lock 6 and the bascule bridge at Bard Avenue in Glasgow due to be complete by spring 2019.
A meeting is to take place in the new year between IWA and Scottish Canals' new Chief Executive, where IWA will take the opportunity to raise concerns following the launch of Scottish Canals' "smart canal" scheme, the North Glasgow Integrated Water Management System. This £17m development will use sensor and predictive weather technology to provide early warning of wet weather before moving excess rainfall from residential and business areas into stretches of the canal where water levels have been lowered by as much as 10cm. Whilst we welcome innovation and use of technology, we have concerns about the further lowering of the water level along this stretch of canal (which is the 20 mile summit of the canal from Glasgow to Cumbernauld) which is already 60cm lower than it was before the canal closed. The canal was restored and reopened using this lowered water level. This reduction in draught already affects the number and type of boats that are able to pass through the Forth & Clyde, even before a further lowering of 10cm.
We note that Scottish Canals says that it could take up to 20 years to fully connect the scheme to the canal, and that it is "targeted to produce £434k pa to pay for maintenance of the NGWIMS system and maintenance of the Glasgow canal corridor." IWA will be making the case to Scottish Canals that this money should be used for improving the stability of the banks so that the water level can be increased a significant amount above the level that the canal was restored to, while still allowing plenty of room for the 10cm of flood water.
Repairs to the banks would also benefit other users of the canal such as canoeists, passengers on trip boats and boaters' using the many pontoons which have been installed.
Explore the less travelled parts of the northern Birmingham Canal Navigations and see three of the locations in our Silver Propeller Challenge with the potential to visit a fourth nearby.
Photo: Walsall Basin on the Walsall Canal.
Our Silver Propeller Challenge encourages boaters and other waterway users to go to 20 locations on our list that aren't visited as much as others on our national rivers and canals.
The Cruise organised by Birmingham Canal Navigations Society takes place 31st May – 8th June 2019. The convoy will meet in Wolverhampton and finish at the BCNS headquarters at the Titford Pump House. The route includes the Cannock Extension, Walsall town basin and the Bentley Arm and a visit to the Bradley workshops.
Priority will be given to boaters who have not been on a BCNS Explorer Cruise before.
Boaters can get their applications forms from Brenda & Brian Ward by emailing email@example.com or phoning Brenda 07961177553 or Brian 07934489304.
IWA contributed to British Canoeing's recently launched Access and Environment Charter - Clear Access, Clear Waters - a campaign which sets out a vision to confirm access to the rivers and inland waters of England and to protect the environment.
In our feedback we said "The Inland Waterways Association believes that canoes and other small unpowered craft are a great and affordable way to get afloat, and offer excellent opportunities to introduce more people, including children and young people, to
inland waterways and the great outdoors. We welcome the charter published by British Canoeing and believe that if Government would introduce modern, comprehensive, legislation for England, as has been done in Scotland and is currently being considered in Wales, then that would bring welcome clarity to the law."
Find out more about the campaign on the British Canoeing website.
New Boat Safety Scheme requirements will be introduced from April next year. A public consultation received strong support for the changes, with 84% in favour of requiring boats with accommodation spaces subject to the BSS to have suitable CO alarms.
The alarms will need to be in good condition and in appropriate locations. It is hoped that they will prevent death and injury from CO omitted from boat engines and appliances.
Not all boats are currently subject to these checks, but taking into account the relatively low-cost of the alarms, we believe that a policy of mandatory fitting should also apply for private boats.
Read a summary of the consultation responses on the Boat Safety Scheme website.
Or see more about Carbon Monoxide on our website.
In November, 10 volunteers from IWA Manchester Branch undertook edging work between locks 12 and 13 on their adopted section on the Ashton Canal in Manchester.
Coping stones, edging stones and sets around the balance beams were cleared of vegetation on both sides of the chamber, as was the towpath where it descended beside the lock.
This work party ended a little earlier than usual for the screening of documentaries 'Operation Ashton' and 'The New Navvies' by Mike Heap in the Strawberry Duck pub. The showing of the films was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Operation Ashton, a large scale work party which took place in 1968 and contributed to the reopening of the Cheshire Ring.
IWA Warwickshire Branch has provided mooring rings at the Avon aqueduct in Warwick to give boaters access to walks by the River Avon between Leamington Spa and Warwick. 11 mooring rings were installed by volunteers in October. Holes were dug out against the concrete coping, bricks were installed around the edge of each hole and then filled with concrete to hold the mooring rings. The planned two day installation took four days due to the weather and limitations on the volunteer group size that could be accommodated.
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
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.
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01494 783 453
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