Photo:St Neots Lock on the Great Ouse
As 2015 draws to a close, IWA is ramping up its campaign encouraging MPs of all parties to support the transfer of the Environment Agency’s 500 or so miles of inland navigations across England and Wales to Canal & River Trust.
Members and supporters will probably be aware that the Association has always felt that Parliament missed a golden opportunity back in 2012 to include the EA navigations at the time of transferring British Waterways’ assets and operating responsibilities to CRT. Sadly, despite it being an agreed policy of the then government, between 2012 and the May 2015 General Election it slipped down the priority list of the former administration, although IWA has worked hard to keep it in view of successive ministers and officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which has responsibility for the Environment Agency.
Now, with a new government in place, with a likely five-year mandate and the recent re-formation of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways under the chairmanship of Richard Benyon MP, IWA believes that the political will may be turning in favour of enacting the transfer at last.
Clearly there will be problems for which the politicians must find equitable solutions – one of the biggest being determining an appropriate funding package, or ‘dowry’, to enable a third-sector organisation to take on the asset maintenance and navigation responsibilities currently performed by EA. Then there is the division of responsibility between navigation and environmental flood control, which most would argue should stay as a core responsibility of a ministerial department.
Nevertheless, the Chancellor’s November Spending Review threw into sharp focus the difference in financial fortunes between the Environment Agency’s navigations and those now run by CRT.
Even before the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, in the three years since Canal & River Trust was formed it has had a secure funding from government of almost £40million per year rising to £50m in 2015/16. The Environment Agency, meanwhile, has had its capital investment for navigation cut from £10.7m in 2012/13 to £3.5m in 2014/15 and now faces yet further reductions as Defra faces budget cuts of at least 15 percent over the next four years.
In spend-per-mile terms the comparison is equally stark. In the year to 31 March 2015 CRT spent some £118million on ’general waterways maintenance’ including major works, dredging and spending on routine maintenance, equating to around £65,500 per waterway mile, whereas EA spent £11.7million, or £23,400 per mile, on capital and operating expenditure for navigation.
You can read more about why your Association continues to push for the EA navigations to be transferred, with an appropriate funding package, to the third sector here. You can also read here about our call for Members and supporters, particularly those living in constituencies containing an EA navigation, to help the campaign by writing to their MPs and how to go about it.
Waters under the control of the EA, which operates several river navigations including the Thames, Nene, Great Ouse and Ancholme as well as some coastal waters and small streams, have been visited this year by David Struckett, Branch Chairman of IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch, who is also a member of IWA’s Navigation Committee.
David believes that it’s a great shame that the amalgamation of EA and CRT could not have taken place at the time of setting up CRT and has written an article which appeared in the Autumn edition of the branch's newsletter ‘Worcester Bar’. Bulletin is pleased to publish an extract of some of David’s comments:
David’s observations on the Great Ouse were of a very beautiful river, once maintained quite well and certainly with navigation structures which work for leisure boating and compatible with angling and conservation issues which the EA is charged with monitoring. However, hundreds of trees lie fallen and all other undergrowth is unchecked, obscuring many signs (some of safety concern) which will eventually result in hazards to bridges and other structures, and members of the public, not to mention boaters and anglers.
Both the Nene and the Ouse (and the Middle Level) are devoid of ‘towpaths’ and where there is a path are more properly called ‘riverside paths’ as there is no possibility of towing on these waters, nor it seems, ever was, at least throughout. Access and moorings are therefore issues which are of continuous concern.
David says “A worrying trend by EA on the small rivers accessible to small craft (canoes, punts, skiffs etc) or small cruisers, which are being surreptitiously ‘restored’ – meaning that the water level is being lowered to favour ‘fast water fish’ and their spawning. This use of the term is seen as in direct opposition to its use by the navigation movement – where restoration generally means control of water levels and depths – usually to achieve a previously navigable status.
It is perhaps understandable, as the EA is charged with improving the environment, as grants are available from the EU for doing just this.
He continues “The examples that have come to light so far include the River Ivel, in Bedfordshire and the Abbey River, a backwater of the Thames in Surrey. Weirs are being altered, without much consultation, or one might say, without consideration for the effects on heritage, safety or flood (or even low flow). In the case of the Abbey River, we canoed down at the time EA contractors were filling up sections with gravel. We just about scraped through! These are to simulate ‘riffles’ – ostensibly to encourage spawning of trout etc....on sections of river that have clearly not had such spawning since medieval times! Canoe Britain is very concerned, because the channels of consultation through EA Navigation personnel were not consulted, and we (i.e. IWA Navigation Committee) have supported them on reprimanding EA on this work.
Perhaps the worrying thing regarding the progress of ‘combining’ the river authorities, is that while the delays continue, a ‘back-log’ of maintenance is building up. I’m sure that staff, in their despondency, if only over reduced funding, are taking advantage of the future ‘take-over’ – it won’t be their worry for much longer.
No, let’s hope it won’t – but as a result, a much larger ‘dowry’ should be sought to bring EA waters up to the standard of CRT..... This is of course somewhat different to what we were usually campaigning for with BW. So, if you ever meet your MP – PLEASE try to mention EA – get the navigations sorted out!”
Read the article.
Created as an antidote to the sales of Black Friday and the online shopping extravaganza on Cyber Monday, today (1st December 2015) has been named #GivingTuesday - a global day of giving. Whether it’s making a donation, volunteering your time or just spreading the word at the start of the Christmas shopping season, #GivingTuesday is a call to action for everyone who wants to give something back. If you would like to make a donation to IWA to help support our campaigns to protect and restore the inland waterways of England and Wales then please go to our website donation pages and donate now.
Alternatively if you feel you could give some of your precious time to IWA and volunteer for one of the many tasks or roles available throughout IWA. We would love to hear from you. Jobs range from getting involved with task parties alongside canals; to helping the IWA events committee organise their huge events or to one week long working holidays helping WRG restore canals. Volunteer now.
Since its launch on 1st August 2015, IWA’s Waterways Restoration Raffle has raised in excess of £10,000 so far, and hopes to raise at least £15,000 in total.
The Association is again donating the profits from the raffle to waterways restoration causes across the country, but this year each restoration society must receive at least 25 nominations to be eligible to receive money. You can choose which project or society you want to support by naming it on your ticket stub.
So far 18 societies have received more than 25 nominations and will be beneficiaries of the raffle. The WRG Van Appeal and Friends of the Cromford are in the lead with 728 and 478 nominations each so far but it can all change depending on your vote.
There are 10 great raffle prizes to be won:
First prize, donated by The Wyvern Shipping Company, is a one week boating holiday on a six berth narrowboat during June, September or October 2016 worth up to £1,500.
Second prize, donated by Andersen Boats, is a three night (Friday-Monday) or four night (Monday-Friday) boating holiday on a four berth boat worth up to £700.
Third prize, donated by Canal Cruising Company, is a weekend boating holiday for four people worth £590.
Other prizes to be won include: a two-night boating break donated by Cambrian Cruisers, a weekend boating holiday donated by Calcutt Boats, a day boat hire holiday donated by ABC Leisure, a pair of Crick Festival Weekend Tickets donated by Waterways World Magazine, £100 of vouchers for Midland Chandlers, a 12-month Canal Boat Magazine subscription and a copy of each of their books, a hand painted, decorative jug donated by The Stone Boat Building Company.
The raffle will be drawn on 31st December, so there’s only have one month left to buy your tickets and be in with a chance of winning, whilst also supporting your choice of waterways causes.
Tickets available now
• Tickets cost £2 each, available in books of 5 tickets.
• A book of tickets has been included in the Winter issue of Waterways.
If you wish to purchase more than one book you can do so online or by telephone on 01494 783453 ext. 610.
The raffle will be drawn on 31st December 2015 at IWA’s Head Office in Chesham, so we will need to receive your ticket stubs by this date.
For more information on raffle prizes, restoration projects and the terms and conditions see the Waterways Restoration Raffle page or contact the raffle organiser Emma Matthars at email@example.com or 01494 783453 ext. 610.
Photo: Wyley & Essington Junction with Cannock, Pelsall BCN Rally (Photograph taken by Angela Acott)
IWA Festival of Water will be held in Pelsall, near Walsall, over the Bank Holiday weekend in August 2016. Boat and campsite bookings are now open with plenty of spaces available for Festival goers looking to spend some time on the Wyrley & Essington canal where it is joined by the Cannock Extension Canal.
Plans for boater and camper entertainment throughout the festival are well underway. The local area has plenty of attractions should you decide to make the festival part of a longer break. The National Memorial Arboretum is close by as is Drayton Manor Park with its Thomas the Tank themed area. There are lots of museums and parks such as Walsall’s Leather Museum and Chasewater Country Park which both receive great reviews. Make your booking for your campsite pitch or boat now.
Photo: Work being carried out to restore Harborne Wharf
In the Mid-November edition of Bulletin, IWA was pleased to report that work had started on Lapal Canal Trust’s project to restore Harborne Wharf. The work has now been completed and was made possible by the generous help of contractors P.J Carey, part of the Carey Group and The Carey Foundation.
Restoration of the first part of the canal from the Worcester and Birmingham Canal to Harborne Wharf is part of the development of the Harvest Partnership (A joint venture between Sainsbury's and Land Securities). Completion of the link to the Worcester and Birmingham canal will allow the Harborne Wharf canal basin to be filled with water. The basin will be 120 metres long and 20 metres wide at its widest point and will also be used as a temporary mooring and turning point for canal boats. The headquarters of the 113th Ariel Scout Group in Selly Oak is located next to the canal and the scouts will help to build the slipway for safe access for canoes.
Careys used the canal tunnel beneath Harborne Lane to remove 2000 cubic metres of soil from Harborne Wharf. The work required the use of an 8 ton excavator which was small enough to traverse the tunnel and two dumper trucks, each with 4 cubic metres capacity requiring a total of 500 journeys. The main activity was completed in 8 days with 3 days for preparing and tidying.
A plan to breathe new life into Birmingham’s historic Grade II listed Roundhouse, has come a step closer to fruition with the award of £2.2million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project marks a new partnership between Canal & River Trust and National Trust and will transform the Roundhouse into a city base from which to explore Birmingham’s revitalised canals on foot or by bike.
The Roundhouse is owned by Canal & River Trust. Built in 1874 by the Birmingham Corporation it was originally used as stables and stores. Designed by local architect W.H. Ward the horseshoe shaped building in Sheepcote Street is now an iconic and much loved Birmingham landmark.
For the last 10 years the majority of the building has been disused and has been steadily falling into disrepair. This new collaboration, plus the vital investment from Heritage Lottery Fund, will put an important building back at the heart of the city’s canal network and give it a new lease of life. As well as offering a base from which to explore the canal network, plans for the Roundhouse include a cycle hire and repair workshop, volunteering opportunities and a shared working space for conservation organisations. The Fund has awarded an initial £225,000 development grant which will be used to work up these plans into a larger £2.9 million scheme that will see the full restoration of this unusual building.
Photo: Members of a new angling club, Little Britain Anglers, remove weeds, reeds and silt to improve the water quality and fishing stocks in the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal
Members of a new angling club, Little Britain Anglers, have been getting their hands dirty to improve the water quality and fishing stocks in the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal near Radcliffe.
Although only formed this summer, the enthusiastic group has just celebrated its tenth work party weekend, clearing away weeds and improving the water flow from the canal’s feeder reservoir at Elton. Up to a dozen members have been joining each session to remove weeds, reeds and silt, working with the Canal & River Trust.
Opened in 1796, the canal is 15 miles long and was used mainly for shipping coal but, as the mines reached the end of their working lives, sections of the canal fell into disuse and disrepair. In 1987 the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society was formed and has been working tirelessly with the Canal & River Trust and other volunteer groups to restore the canal.
Little Britain Angling Club was set up specifically to take on the task of re-introducing angling on the canal while working with other groups to improve the waterway for everyone to enjoy.
For more information about Little Britain Anglers and how to join them, check out the Little Britain Anglers website.
Photo: Volunteers plant trees at Dymock's new Canal Basin
Over twenty Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust volunteers, were joined by local residents to plant 500 trees along the new canal basin nearing completion in the Gloucestershire village of Dymock.
A canal basin, which has not yet been watered, has been created in the centre of the village on a bend where the canal approaching from Ledbury to the north turns southwards towards Gloucester.
The 500 trees comprise a variety of native trees including oak, beech, bird cherry, field maple, spindle, sweet chestnut, birch, hazel and alder. The banks to the basin are steep and the roots will give good support once the trees have become established. As well as providing invaluable habitats for birds and insects their variety of colours will add interest to the area.
Photo (l-r): Neil Trudgill (Environment Agency) Tim Kohler (Natural England), Jonny Hart Woods (Canal & River Trust), Anthony Downing (Environment Agency) and Ed Miliband MP with the new sculpture at Sprotbrough Weir.
Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North, has officially opened a special fish pass at Sprotbrough Weir on the River Don designed to help migratory salmon, sea trout and other fish migrate up and downstream.
The £500,000 project has been completed by the Environment Agency, working with partners including Canal & River Trust, Don Gorge Community Group, Doncaster Council and the local landowner. Funding for the project came from the Environment Agency and the Tarmac Landfill Community Fund.
To mark the official opening of the fish pass, on Friday 20th November, Mr Miliband unveiled a specially-commissioned sculpture recognising the history and ecology of the River Don and Don Gorge. The 4ft limestone sculpture, created by Anthony Downing, depicts a salmon, a barbel and an eel, species which will be able to move more easily up and down the river thanks to the new fish pass. Positioned around the sculpture are foundation stones from an old mill which was unearthed during construction of the fish pass. The project has also created a viewing area for visitors to watch fish using the new pass.
We are saddened to report the death, on 18th November, of IWA member Fred Heritage, well-known former working boatman who in later years regularly attended waterway events with his ex-Fellows Morton & Clayton motor boat Lynx.
This section contains volunteer reports from IWA branches and IWA's Waterway Recovery Group. IWA branch reports contain information from their latest work parties where volunteers have worked to help maintain their local canals. WRG reports on its Canal Camps and weekend digs to keep readers up to date with the restoration work the group has been undertaking.
The fence to the side of the Mossley Canal Bridge on the Trent and Mersey Canal had been identified by one of IWA Lichfield Branch volunteers as being unstable and dangerous. In agreement with Canal & River Trust, the branch decided to remove and replace the existing posts and rail, as well as refurbish the railings on top of the bridge and the gate opposite. A work party to tackle the tasks was arranged for Friday 20th November and eleven experienced volunteers took up the challenge.
The painting work went well and was finished on the day, leaving the area looking much smarter. However, the removal of the wooden posts which were set in concrete to a depth of about 12 inches caused a lot of problems. One post was very rotten and came out quite easily and it was decided to leave the top posts as they were solid but the bottom post needed to come out but was concreted in very firmly. By the end of Friday the volunteers were nowhere near getting it removed, so a hardy four volunteers came back on the Saturday to complete the job after snow had fallen overnight. By Saturday afternoon the troublesome stump was finally removed.
What sounded to be a relatively simple job turned out to be very challenging, not helped by the freezing weather. However, the work party welcomed trays of tea brought out by neighbours and the sandwiches for lunch, provided by Mossley Tavern. Also much appreciated was the cake supplied by Helen Whitehouse.
IWA West Country Branch held work parties on 17th & 18th November, which were spent cutting back overgrowth and removing rubbish along Lyndale Avenue, Bridgwater with the help of 21 enthusiastic volunteers.
On 21st November, 11 volunteers carried out a partial deep cut back of the vegetation around the Fordgate Canalside car park near Huntworth. The branch is planning further visits soon, once the piling and back fill of the swing bridge landing stages are finished allowing full access to all car park hedgerows.
Volunteers were supervised on all these work parties by Mark Betson (CRT) who also arranged for the CRT welfare vehicle on site, this was very much appreciated by all volunteers.
IWA Manchester Branch was delighted with the good turnout of 11 volunteers including three new participants at its work party on the 21st November. The Group gave Ashton Canal Lock 10 a good tidy up, with towpath vegetation clearance and a cobble and coping clean. The only down side of the day was when a cake tin, accidentally dropped in the cut and sank despite in efforts to recover it. Fortunately all the cake had already been eaten!
Have a look at the list of volunteer opportunities within local IWA committees. There is a full list of volunteer opportunities within IWA branches.
The following IWA region and branch magazines have been added to the website since the last edition of the Bulletin:
South Yorkshire Branch – Keels & Cuckoos
South East Region – Cargoes
Northampton Branch – Endeavour
Lee & Stort Branch – Recorder
North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch - Knobsticks
Have you got a waterway event or activity to promote? - Anyone can add details of a waterways event or activity to this area on the website. You don’t even need to register with the website or provide any sort of password. Simply use the upload event form.
2nd December Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
5th December Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
5th December Work Party - Burslem (Supported by IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch)
9th December Work Party - Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal (Supported by IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcs Branch)
9th December Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
10th December Work Party - Uttoxeter Canal (Supported by IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch)
12th December Work Party - Tardebigge Lime Kilns (Supported by IWA Birmingham Branch)
13th December Work Party - Sleaford Navigation (Supported by IWA Lincolnshire Branch)
15th December Work Party - Northampton (Supported by IWA Northampton Branch)
16th December Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
19th December Work Party - Uttoxeter Canal (Supported by IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch)
19th December Work Party - Greater Manchester (Supported by IWA Manchester Branch)
22nd December Work Party - Burslem (Supported by IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch)
23rd December Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
30th December Work Party - River Gipping (Supported by IWA Ipswich Branch)
To advertise your restoration/cleanup events in the bulletin please add details to IWA's events calendar
6th December Waterside Walk - Little Venice to Camden (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
20th December Waterside Walk - Regent’s Canal (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
27th December Waterside Walk - Regent’s Canal (IWA Towpath Walks Society)
To advertise your towpath walks in the Bulletin, please add details to IWA's events calendar
The following special offers are now available exclusively for IWA members:
Please note: All discounts and offers are entirely at the organisers' discretion.
To see details of how to take advantage of these offers, please go to www.waterways.org.uk/support_us/members_area/member_discounts_special_offers_public
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
Read Bulletin in an alternative newsletter format:
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