IWA Bulletin

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Government Must Intervene to Save our Waterways Sector

Wyvern Shipping hireboats lined up and not in use Covid19

On 14th May Paul Rodgers, IWA National Chairman, addressed an online meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways.  Convened to discuss the urgent issues facing waterway businesses affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, the meeting heard how government's failure to offer a £20m support package "could precipitate the most widespread and rapid decline of businesses on our waterways."  Paul urged the government to "intervene at the earliest possible opportunity to save this vital sector of the British economy".

IWA's call for action was supported by the words of Richard Parry and John Packman who between them offered the navigation authorities’ perspective on behalf of Canal & River Trust and the Broads Authority.  A representative from British Marine joined them, along with the parliamentarians present, for a question and answer session.  

Representatives from user organisations and waterway businesses had been invited to attend the meeting and were given the opportunity to ask questions and raise issues.  A number of waterway businesses gave lived examples of how financial help is much needed, and the case was made for some waterway businesses, such as hire boat operators, being able to open up at the earliest possible opportunity.  

The meeting closed with the chairman, Michael Fabricant MP, stating that the APPGW would write immediately to Defra, DCMS and HM Treasury asking for urgent support for the waterways sector.  

Read the full Opening Statement by Paul Rodgers to the APPG for the Waterways

See how you can get involved in the campaign by writing to your MP


New scheme to support waterway businesses launched

The Government has today (29th May) published details of the previously announced local authority discretionary grants fund for small businesses, which confirms that it may be suitable for many waterways businesses and organisations that have been unable to access government grants so far. 

Applications open today and we would encourage early applications through your local authority website, as funds are likely to be exhausted quite quickly.   


Stop The Loss of Waterways Heritage

Part One of IWA's Heritage Report Launched

Our on-going campaign to protect waterways heritage has been bolstered by the launch of the first part of a two-part report which aims to highlight the significance of waterways heritage across the UK.  

The report focuses on the need for better protection of waterways heritage assets but also calls on navigation authorities, councils, planning authorities, developers and builders to consider waterways heritage in any future development plans for local waterways and adjoining land.  

Britain’s waterways form a vast, open-air network of working canals and rivers, connecting city and countryside, alive with boats and enjoyed by millions. As a heritage asset it is unsurpassed in scale and accessibility. It tells the story of Britain’s industrial past as well as being important to its future. Sadly, many of the unique and diverse heritage features that make the waterways so special are not protected. Vast numbers have already disappeared and those that remain are at great risk of being lost.  

Our report highlights our concerns and calls for a greater level of protection for waterways heritage features, over and above the 2,800 larger structures that are already listed through the Historic England register. These include 70 scheduled ancient monuments and five UNESCO world heritage sites.  We don’t want the waterways to become a museum.  What we are asking for is that our waterway history is protected and included in development plans rather than being overlooked or removed.

Part two of this report will be released in the summer and will go into more detail about the value of waterways heritage using a series of in-depth case studies alongside other resources for use by our Branch Heritage Officers.  

Read Part I of IWA's Waterways Heritage Report


West Midlands Strategic Rail Freight Interchange given the go ahead

The decision by Grant Shapps (Secretary of State for Transport) to approve the West Midlands Interchange planning application, will destroy the rural environment of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal between Gailey and Four Ashes, and damage its setting between Four Ashes and Calf Heath. The Planning Inspectorate Report and Secretary of State Decision Letter was published on 4 May.

This Strategic Rail Freight Interchange is in fact an enormous road-served warehouse development on the scale of Daventry, with 14 huge warehouses of which only two will be directly served by rail, should the construction of the rail terminal proceed. The site will surround the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal and its Conservation Area and change its setting from countryside and woodland to baffle mounds and the upper parts of large ‘tin shed’ warehouses.  Its present tranquillity will be replaced by constant traffic noise from 24 hour operations.  The proximity of warehouses to Gailey Reservoir will also cause wind turbulence that threatens the viability of its sailing club.

As a result of IWA’s early engagement with the developers, and subsequent agreements with Canal & River Trust, there will be some benefit in the removal of 2 unsightly redundant pipe bridges and a concrete bridge at Four Ashes, resurfacing the towpath through the site, and towpath access to a canalside park area at Croft Lane.  However, these are but little compensation for the lasting damage this development will do to the heritage, amenity and tourism value of the canal.

As a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project this application was decided outside the normal local authority planning system.  IWA submitted a comprehensive summary of our objections to the Development Consent Order application at the earliest stage of its examination, and Canal & River Trust were engaged throughout in trying to mitigate its impacts.  We had support from the main local protest group which provided much detailed expert evidence against the scheme.  It seemed from questions raised during the proceedings that the Inspector understood how it would impact the canal, so it was a shock how little weight is given to that in the subsequent report and recommendations.

Although the impact on canal users and on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Conservation Area was only one of the determining factors, the absence of any proven need for this speculative development, the inappropriate location away from the Black Country market it will serve, the excessive scale of the proposals, the increased traffic it will cause on already congested roads, and other matters, it is nevertheless shocking that the Inspector can dismiss the heritage value of the Canal Conservation Area as “low” and the impacts as “less than substantial”.

Particularly concerning is the false reasoning in the Inspector’s report about heritage issues:

  • because the Inspector personally considers the boatyard at Gailey Wharf to be “unkempt” with “poor quality” buildings, this “offsets” the heritage value of the unique Listed Round House and Cottage; yet the visible warehouses and traffic noise “would not alter the heritage value”  
  • that because the site affects “only a small part of the 74km long, linear Canal Conservation Area” the impact on its significance as a whole is “negligible”  
  • that because this section of the Conservation Area has already been partly damaged by industrial development that implicitly justifies further development  
  • that effects on the Conservation Area would be outweighed by “public benefits” (although  these "benefits" are not outlined).

The Secretary of State has then cited the Inspector’s comments about the boatyard, previous industrial development and public benefits as justification for concluding that the effects on heritage are “not significant”.

The Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal is a jewel in the crown of our canal system.  It is one of the first narrow canals and the only one completed in James Brindley’s lifetime, and has remained remarkably unchanged for 250 years with a wealth of historic structures and largely rural surroundings.  The former tar distillery at Four Ashes, which became the chemical works, was the only real blot on its landscape until recent years when this section and parts in Wolverhampton have been invaded by large, featureless warehouse buildings.  But even around Four Ashes the canal itself and its original accommodation bridges remain remarkably attractive, and the Roundhouse at Gailey along with the cottage, lock and wharf is a unique heritage asset that should be nationally treasured.

Limehouse Basin Moorings Appeal Rejected


BWML’s plans to insert new moorings in Limehouse Basin has been rejected following a successful campaign by IWA North and East London Branch and St Pancras Cruising Club.

An appeal for proposed moorings in Limehouse Basin has now been rejected based on the effect of the proposed development on:

  • the character and appearance of the waterspace
  • navigation
  • the living conditions of neighbouring residents, and
  • water quality.

We objected to the proposals for the five pontoons along a section of the South-east Basin wall because:-

  • Limehouse Basin is a point of refuge if there are problems on the river,  
  • The proposed restricted space for turning craft, created by inserting the pontoons, is likely to create problems of boat contact, especially as the wind tends to be strong across the basin due to the high rise buildings,
  • The south-east wall is used as the muster point for flotillas making Thames transits. The existing arrangement allows more boats to be moored alongside than the proposed finger pontoons will accommodate,
  • The proposed pontoons are of varying lengths and do not maximise mooring space available nor offer the flexibility needed for longer narrowboats.

IWA Trustee Vacancies

To help guide our future strategy, we are seeking a number of trustees.  The new trustees will use their skillsets and experience to develop the thinking that will help us to grow our influence and our supporter base. They will develop our competence and capability to connect in the most forward-thinking ways with a diversity of stakeholders, building on the objectives for the Charity set out in our Articles of Association.

If you have demonstrable experience and success relevant to our needs and clear alignment with IWA’s vision of ‘a thriving, growing network of sustainable inland waterways for everyone’, then we look forward to hearing from you.

Please take a look at the information pack to gain a deeper understanding of the trustee role responsibilities and for information on how to apply.


Programme of online presentations

webinar header

We have added more speakers to our rolling weekly programme of waterway webinars. It's easy to join using a desktop computer, tablet or smart phone. You can also dial in.

Places are limited so register now to avoid disappointment.

Scottish Waterways – now and the future

Presented by Jonathan Mosse
Tuesday 2nd June – 7:30pm
Register now for Scottish Waterways – now and the future

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation - what next?

Presented by Roy Chandler
Tuesday 9th June - 7:30pm
Register now for Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation - what next?

Biodiversity Net Gain

Presented by Alex Melson - IWA Restoration team
11th June 2020 - 12:30pm
Find out more about Biodiversity Net Gain and how it will affect waterway restorations.
Register now for Biodiversity Net Gain


Webinars on demand

Watch our online presentations back at a time which is best for you. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notifications when webinars are ready to view.

View webinars and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Photography Competition – Submit your entries

Photography Competition Montage

You can help to support our campaigns by entering our photography competition. Shortlisted photos will feature in our Waterways Magazine and there are prizes to be won.  

You can expect to see your imagery used across our website, campaign reports and other communications materials.  Photography received in this way allows us to improve the effectiveness of what we do and ensures that as much of our income as possible is used to protect and restore our waterways rather than in the purchase or rental of imagery.  Good images really bring our communications materials to life and increase support for the waterways overall.  

The four categories for the 2020 competition are:

  • Heritage & Restoration - from old waterways signage and rope grooves caused by horse drawn boats to the 500 miles of waterways that could be usefully restored.
  • Waterscape - enchanting views of navigable waterways.  
  • Built environment - from beautiful old warehouses to wonderful new developments, creative, refreshing spaces to be.  Let’s get the picture of our urban, waterside environment.
  • Active Waterways - all that contributes to the vibrancy of our inland waterways - from the family enjoying a boat trip, a couple walking the towpath hand in hand, the boater mooring up for the evening, to the wildlife that lives there.

Enter the photography competition. Submit your entries by 31st July 2020.  

Covid-19 and the Waterways

Can I visit the waterways?

During these challenging times we would like to see all waterside paths remain open, but your safety comes first.  

As the Government starts to ease the lockdown measures we would ask everyone to continue to observe social distancing rules by keeping their distance from other people and moored boats.   

As many lengths of towpaths are less than 2 metres wide it can be difficult to keep to the Government's safe distance guidelines, particularly where boats are moored, and so we ask you to act responsibly when using the towpath, to keep moving and to take extra care on narrow sections.

Waterway activities

In England, all forms of water sports and fishing are now allowed, and the use of privately-owned motorised craft for short journeys is now allowed on some waterways (in line with the guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority).  You can take part in these activities on your own, with your household, or with one other person while adhering to social distancing rules. You may travel to your boat in a private car (please check first if access to your mooring is permitted) but you may not stay on board overnight if it is not your primary residence.

In Scotland and Wales, lockdown has yet to be eased so please follow local guidance.

See more about Covid-19 and the waterways on our website.

Guidance for running work parties

Guidance is available for waterway restoration groups and IWA branches restarting work parties. This guidance will be reviewed weekly. Read our guidance on running work parties.

Summer Canal Camps Cancelled

IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camps have now been cancelled between now and September. This decision was made following government announcements and with the wellbeing of our volunteers in mind. We look forward to welcoming volunteers back on a volunteer holiday as soon as it’s possible.   

You can find out more Canal Camp cancellations.


Buy online and raise money for IWA at no cost to you. It is so easy to do your shopping with thousands of partner sites 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 £1500 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.



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