IWA Bulletin - December 2019

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A Year of Campaigns 2019

It’s been a busy 12 months for IWA. Here we look back at the many different campaigns that the charity has been involved in from a local branch level up to a national level during 2019. We couldn’t do any of this without our members, supporters, volunteers, staff and donors, and would like to take this time to say “Thank You”. Here’s to a successful New Year.  

2019 began with news of a government consultation to improve efficiency for Canal & River Trust through a listed building consent order which will save time and money that can be put to better use in maintaining waterways assets and structures.  IWA’s response highlighted the importance of protecting and preserving historic assets and started the ball rolling on IWA’s Value of Waterways Heritage campaign, which officially launched in June 2019 and will be a primary focus for 2020. Waterways Heritage was also a key theme in the IWA Value of Inland Waterways report which was launched in October 2019. In this report, IWA uncovered a gap in research looking at the specific value of ‘waterways’ heritage. IWA will undertake this research next year as part of the Value of Waterways Heritage campaign.  

Photo: Exeter Ship Canal – Exeter City Basin - added as a Silver Propeller Location in 2019.

Also early in 2019, additional Silver Propeller Challenge locations were added and the momentum of the campaign to get people to visit underused stretches of the network really began to pick up. In October 2019, Minimal List completed the Silver Propeller Challenge and were the first people to officially visit 20 Silver Propeller Challenge locations. There are a number of other challengers who are almost there and Minimal List aren’t stopping at 20, they are continuing on, aiming to visit even more locations during 2020.  

Our Gaptracker Survey results were published in February and we have been working with navigation authorities to help improve facilities across the network. A number of new facilities have been repaired thanks to our survey results.  

Red Diesel has been an on-going theme throughout 2019. In January, there was an EU ruling stating that the UK had failed to meet the EU requirements for fiscal marking of gas oils and kerosene. This ruling had implications for boat owners and boatyard operators as there would need to be a change from red diesel to white diesel for leisure boating. IWA responded to HMRC consultations in July 2019 and met with HMRC in August 2019 to highlight a number of concerns including the fact that and tank modifications could impact safety and the environment and will have significant cost implications for boaters, boatyards and other waterway-based diesel suppliers. This issue continues on and will be a topic of concern in 2020.  

Another on-going campaign theme in 2019 is HS2. IWA Lichfield Branch has been campaigning successfully for noise mitigation along the Trent & Mersey Canal. In September 2019, IWA responded to the Phase 2B consultation.  Photo: David Suchet fronts Waterways in Progress Report.

IWA has been working to raise the profile of the Association at the highest level, working more closely with MPs and local authorities. In March 2019, IWA launched its Waterways in Progress report. This report looks at the many benefits that a waterway restoration can bring to an area. The report has led IWA to engage with local authorities, including attending a conference for Local Authority Chief Executives. We also launched the Waterways in Progress £100,000 Grant. The recipients of the grant are being announced shortly. In 2019, we tried something different for our Parliamentarian of the Year Award, asking IWA branches and canal restoration trusts to nominate MPs who have been particularly supportive. It was interesting to see the nominations coming in and we hosted a particularly well attended Parliamentary event in May 2019 with over 140 guests attending including 45 MPs and 5 members of the House of Lords. Andrew Bridgen MP was our 2019 Parliamentarian of the Year.  

Andrew Bridgen MP POTY 2019Photo: IWA's Ivor Caplan presents Andrew Bridgen MP with IWA's Parliamentarian of the Year Award.

IWA’s support of Scotland’s Canals has been on-going during 2019, starting with a visit to the Lowland Canals in March 2019 and culminating in a request for IWA members to respond to Scottish Canals’ consultation regarding user operation on the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals.  

Photo: Twechar Lift Bridge, Forth & Clyde Canal undergoing repairs March 2019. Photo by Alison Smedley

April 2019 saw the launch of IWA’s Vision for London which was produced by IWA London region and looks at the many complex issues facing the waterways across London. One of the campaigns that came out of this looked at the value of a view and inspired IWA to launch its Vote for a View at IWA Canalway Cavalcade in May. The results of this vote were sent to the London Mayor along with a request to protect views along all of London’s waterways, not just the River Thames.  

During early summer 2019, IWA launched its #PullSnapStomp Himalayan balsam campaign. IWA produced some branded pink gloves and requested support from branches to hold Balsam Bashes. At one of the Balsam Bashes, the blossoms collected were sent to a local gin distillery and a limited-edition run of Himalayan balsam gin was produced. Our Spot the Plot campaign helped us to locate areas of Himalayan balsam which will be a target for next year.  
Big issues that began to surface in 2019, and we believe will continue into 2020 are Climate Change and Clean Air. IWA raised concerns about climate change in a letter to the Waterways minister and supported a call for evidence from boaters for the Department of Transport Clean Air Strategy.  

IWA’s West London Branch responded to the consultation looking at the proposed Heathrow Expansion. The Branch raised concerns about local waterways and the environmental impact that the expansion may have.  

IWA West Country Branch has had an active year, campaigning on a number of different issues including the Bridgwater Tidal Barrier Project, Bridgwater Docks, Exeter Ship Canal and the Langport River Project.  

As you can see, there has been a lot going on during 2019 and we are sure that 2020 will be just as busy. If you have time next year and would like to volunteer, why not check out our new website and find out what is going on in your local area? Our local branches always welcome new faces and there are many different ways you can get involved. Please contact Nicola Kiely, Volunteer Support Officer, IWA on nicola.kiely@waterways.org.uk or call 01494 783453 ext 610.

Two new Silver Propeller locations

Castle Mills Lock Operation
Two locations at the northern extremities of England’s waterways have been added to the list of qualifying locations in IWA’s Silver Propeller Challenge. This challenge aims to encourage our members and others to visit and use some stunning, yet quieter, parts of the network waterway locations that aren’t reached as often as others.

Both locations have been chosen for campaigning reasons, primarily to promote increased use of two very under-used sections of waterway, in line with the overall intentions of the Silver Propeller Challenge. The addition of the isolated section of the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal will help to promote the restoration of the canal up to Kendal, while the River Foss in York is accessible again with a new team of IWA volunteers coming together to operate Castle Mills Lock.

Find out more about our Silver Propeller Challenge.

Join us on a Working Holiday in 2020

IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group has launched its new 2020 Canal Camp programme featuring week-long working holidays and a number of weekend digs across England and Wales.

For next year, WRG has chosen to run targeted Canal Camps on fewer sites but with more weeks at each. Sites include the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, Cotswold Canals, Derby Canal, Lichfield Canal, River Waveney, Swansea Canal, Way & Arun Canal and Wilts & Berks Canal.

Commenting on this new approach, Mike Palmer, Chairman, Waterway Recovery Group says, “Over the past ten years, we have been consistently expanding the number of work sites that we visit during our working holiday programme. This has worked well and has enabled us to help many different canal trusts but it does mean that we can only make a limited amount of progress at each of the sites. This year, we are reducing the number of canals that we visit but will be staying at each for a number of weeks to really help break the back of some more in-depth work such as bridge repairs, lock restoration, channel excavation and brickwork. We are hoping to not only bring significant support to each of the canals we visit, but also to give our volunteers the opportunity to learn new skills.”

Canal Camps run for seven days and cost just £70 per person, per week. The cost includes three meals a day – a cooked breakfast, lunch on site and a substantial home cooked evening meal, plus an endless supply of tea and cake. Accommodation is usually in a village hall or scout hut and volunteers need to bring their own camp bed. All transfers to and from the work site are included but volunteers will need to make their own way to the camp location. If travelling by public transport, volunteers can be collected from the nearest railway station. First time volunteers will receive one year’s free subscription to WRG’s ‘Navvies’ magazine.

Find out more about our 2020 Canal Camps.

IWA Directory of Parliamentary Constituencies with Waterways

A new resource is available to waterway campaigners engaging with MPs across all waterways in England, Scotland and Wales.

Our new IWA Directory of Parliamentary Constituencies with Waterways identifies over 400 constituencies which have navigable waterways and/or significant restoration projects within their boundaries. The database is fully searchable by MP name, constituency, waterway and IWA branch, enabling you to work out which MPs you need to contact for any particular stretch of waterway.

This version includes all new and re-elected MPs following the recent General Election. Interested campaigners can sign up to receive a copy of the new resource on IWA’s website. Signing up to receive a copy of the spreadsheet will also ensure that you to receive updates as and when new editions of the directory are issued.

Request your copy of IWA Directory of Parliamentary Constituencies with Waterways.

The Directory works well in combination with IWA’s Waterway Directory, also available on request from the website.  

New Bridge Opens Across the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal

A long-planned new road bridge across the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal and the adjacent River Parrett was formally opened on Monday 16th December.  A previous structure is now property of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust following intervention by IWA West Country branch.  The Trust will use the structure as a farm accommodation bridge across the restored canal, giving it a new lease of life instead of it being removed and broken up as was previously planned.  Members of the local IWA branch attended the opening ceremony which not only launched a new canal crossing but also resulted in a smart new quarter mile length of towpath between Crossways Swing Bridge and Mead’s Swing Bridge in the Bridgwater suburbs.

Photo: Crossways Swing bridge well before its removal.
Photo: The new road is called Squibbers Way - squibbing is the simultaneous firing of lots of large fireworks  or“squibs” and is a feature of Bridgwater Carnival. Credit: Somerset County Council

Bridgwater Docks Future Uncertain

IWA West Country Branch has been lobbying both CRT and Somerset County Council to address the future of Bridgwater Docks for a number of years. Failed infrastructure means that craft have been unable to use the Barge Lock to gain access to and from the River Parrett since 2002-3.  

Canal & River Trust which leases the Docks from the Council has announced that they will not be renewing the lease in July 2020.  When the lease runs out all the interests in the Docks will revert to the Council.

The Trust has said it will be working with the Council to identify how the Docks can be managed in the future, which might be through a community company made up of local interests. Canal & River Trust has also pledged to carry out a number of repairs to put the Docks back in the position they were in 1999, when they entered into the lease. This includes replacing the lock gates that are subject to the lease.

IWA West Country Branch, which contributes hundreds of volunteer hours each year to look after Bridgwater Docks, will continue to support discussions to ensure Docks are properly maintained for the benefit of all waterway users. 


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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.

Enjoy the Waterways Through Hire Boats and Leisure

ABC Boat Hire - 15% discount on holidays (Direct Bookings Only)
CanalCruising.co.uk - 10% discount on holidays
Canal Boat Magazine - 5 issues for £5.00
City Centre Cruises - 10% discount for Sunday lunch cruises in Manchester
Frangipani SUP Ltd - 10% discount on adult beginner 'Stand Up & Paddle' lessons
Jenny Wren- 10% discount off cruises
Wyvern Shipping Co. Ltd- 10% discount on published prices

Eating Out

To take advantage of eating out offers you just need to produce a valid IWA membership card.

The Bounty Pub - 10% discount on food
Kings Lock Tearooms
- 10% discount on food
The Clifford Arms Pub - 10% discount on food
The Three Locks Pub - 10% discount on food

Better Value on Boats and Equipment

Boatshed Grand Union - 10% discount on brokerage
Calcutt Boats - 5% online discount
Channelglaze Ltd. - 10% discount on double glazing
Cotswold Outdoor - 10% discount
IceGripper - 20% discount on ICETrekkers Diamond Grip
Kings Lock Chandlery - 5% discount (exclusions apply)
Midland Chandlers - 5% discount
RoadPro - 5% discount
Willowbridge Marina - 10% discount on chandlery purchases and services in the yard


Forge Studio - 10% discount
Harbour Clean - 10% discount
Lee Sanitation - 10% on orders over £100
Paper Wizard - 15% discount
River Canal Rescue - up to 15% discount
Wavetrain Marine - 5% discount on selected 1 day RYA SRC VHF Licence Course

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

Boat Insurance

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