IWA Bulletin Mid-July 2013

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IWA Disappointed at Missed Opportunity to Transfer Environment Agency Navigations

IWA has expressed disappointment at the Waterways Minister’s announcement on 3rd July of a postponement of the proposed transfer of the Environment Agency’s river navigations to Canal & River Trust (CRT). There is some consolation, however, in that Government policy to make the transfer as soon as it is affordable is unchanged.

In a written ministerial statement, Richard Benyon MP, Parliamentary Undersecretary at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, said that cuts to his Department’s budget in the Government Spending Review announced last week had led to economies having to be made which resulted in the transfer being unaffordable in 2015/16, as had originally been planned.

IWA believes the Minister’s announcement is short-sighted and just defers the opportunity to raise additional funds and voluntary sector support that the transfer to the charitable sector would provide.  In the meantime, budgets will continue under pressure and IWA fears boaters and other users can expect a deteriorating service and standards on those river navigations.  IWA believes it would be better for all parties if the necessary funding could be provided now, as it simply has to be found sooner or later, and delaying can only make matters worse.  In short, no one wins.

Les Etheridge, IWA National Chairman said: “We are very disappointed that this element of government policy is to be delayed until the next Spending Review. An opportunity was missed a year ago when CRT was formed, and perhaps predictably the finances of Defra do not seem to have improved since then. Indeed, the latest round of cuts from 2015 is a cause of concern. We understand that 65% of the income for the Agency’s navigations comes from government grant in aid, and this has already been substantially cut. Worse still, there are clearly prospects for further cuts which could impose additional financial burdens on users of the EA navigations, and in particular boaters. Inclusion of EA’s navigations within CRT offers many benefits, but especially surety of income once a deal with government is achieved.”

“Whilst this is just a delay, rather than a change in policy, and the transfer remains government policy, IWA will now redouble its efforts to support and lobby for the earliest implementation of this policy.”

IWA News

Three Days Until The Waterways Festival 2013

There are just three days to go until the National Festival at Cassiobury Park, Watford, running from Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July. Over 300 volunteers are busy putting the final touches to the Festival where, as always, there is a lot to see and do.

Each year IWA works hard to engage with the local community to raise awareness about the work of the Association. This year every home in Hertfordshire has received information about the Festival via the County Council’s magazine and a Special ‘Waterways’ Edition of Watford’s community magazine will be released this weekend.  Radio adverts are on air and BBC Three Counties will be at the Festival on Friday.

As an IWA member you and any guests can enjoy the Cressy Lounge and Garden. Both are situated next to the IWA marquee and make good meeting points with tea, coffee and cold drinks available for a small donation to IWA funds. (The Cressy Lounge will be closed on Friday 19th for an official function, but the Garden will remain open, with the Lounge available throughout the remainder of the long weekend).

Festival tickets are available from IWA's website as well as a preview of the souvenir programme and further information about the weekend.

Volunteers to Help Restore Lady Capel’s Bridge on the Grand Union Canal

Lady Capel’s Bridge (Number 163) on the Grand Union Canal is a Grade 2 listed bridge desperately in need of repairs and repainting. Staff from Canal & River Trust recently removed damaged paintwork and prepared the site for Waterway Recovery Group volunteers to come along and restore the bridge back to its former glory. Work will include repointing and repairing damaged brickwork as well as repainting the bridge in a white, breathable paint.

Jenny Black from Waterway Recovery Group said, "We are really pleased that we can help restore this iconic bridge in Watford as part of the Waterways Festival celebration of the Grand Union Canal.  This is the second time we have worked with the Canal & River Trust on a bridge restoration and this is a great project to demonstrate the work we do as a volunteer organisation."

A work party took place on Saturday 13th July and another work party will be happening over the weekend of the Waterways Festival, Friday 19th to Sunday 21st July. The work parties involve a team of 5 to15 volunteers working at any one time, all of whom are skilled in heritage restoration and bricklaying. Members of the public are invited to come along during this time to find out more about the works, chat to volunteers from WRG and staff from Canal & River Trust and learn more about the history of this bridge.

Public Open Days
What: Come along to Lady Capel's Bridge on Friday 19th, Saturday 20th, and Sunday 21st July to find out more about these heritage works.
Where: Bridge 163, Grand Union Canal, off Hempstead Road, Watford.
Times: Come along anytime between 11am and 3pm each day.
For more information and directions please contact Jenny Black jenny.black@waterways.org.uk or call 01494 783 453 ext 604.

Red Diesel and European Legal Action

IWA is concerned about a recent announcement by the European Commission challenging UK laws which currently allow leisure boaters to purchase red diesel.  This is despite the agreement made with HMRC in 2008 whereby boaters can purchase red diesel for propulsion whilst paying the standard rate of tax, with a form of self-declaration allowing a proportion of the diesel used for heating and lighting to be purchased at a lower rate of tax.  

The European Commission has formally requested the United Kingdom to amend its legislation to ensure that private pleasure boats can no longer buy lower taxed fuel intended for commercial boats. Under EU rules on fiscal marking for fuels, fuel that can benefit from a reduced tax rate has to be marked by coloured dye. Commercial craft are allowed to benefit from fuel subject to a lower tax rate but private boats must use fuel subject to a standard rate. The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion. In the absence of a satisfactory response within two months, the Commission may refer the United Kingdom to the EU's Court of Justice.

The announcement may mean the end of the use of red diesel for any leisure boating, with boatyards and fuel suppliers having to supply unmarked (white) diesel.  Whilst red diesel could continue to be used for heating, it would have to be in a separate tank, and there would be no dispensation for any proportion of fuel used by the engine for generating heat and light.  Commercially operated boats would still be able to purchase and use red diesel, but this would require fuel suppliers and boatyards to have two separate tanks for the different fuels.

Historically, boat owners were able to purchase and use lower-taxed diesel marked with a red dye, otherwise used by the agricultural and construction industries, for pleasure boating. This changed in 2008 when a UK derogation from the Energy Products Directive (which permitted the UK to continue to levy a reduced rate of duty on motor fuel to be used for propulsion in private pleasure craft) ended.

At that time, IWA, Royal Yachting Association and British Marine Federation worked closely with HM Revenue & Customs to achieve a sensible arrangement of self declaration, whereby boaters are able to decide at the point of purchase what proportion of their diesel consumption is used solely for propulsion, and what proportion is used for heating and lighting.  

IWA has been aware of this latest threat since 2011 when the European Commission first threatened to open infringement proceedings against the UK Government claiming the UK was not adhering to EU directives on fiscal marketing, designed to prevent the improper use of certain petroleum products.  At that time Justine Greening, Economic Secretary to the Treasury replied to IWA that the UK Government continues to share IWA's view that the procedures operated in the UK comply with Directives and responded to the Commission accordingly. 

Advice was issued by HMRC in April 2012 concerning the use of red diesel on the continent and possible action by other countries against any visiting vessels found with marked red diesel in their fuel tanks.  At that time HMRC stated that there would be no change to the arrangements for the use of red diesel on inland waters in the UK provided the correct amount of duty has been paid.

IWA is concerned at the increased costs that will be faced by both boat owners and boatyard operators if this change is implemented.  Whilst accepting that any fuel used solely for propulsion should be subject to the higher rate of tax, IWA considers that it is unfair for boat owners to have to purchase fully taxed white diesel for heating and cooking.  

IWA is also concerned at the costs to boatyards and other fuel suppliers in having to install a new or second tank in order to be able to supply white diesel.  

IWA considers that it is simply not practical for most boats that use the inland waterways to have two tanks (and pumps) – one for red diesel and one for white; that inappropriate modifications would raise safety concerns; and that many diesel suppliers would not supply both red and white diesel. 

Fundamentally, IWA believes that the agreement reached in 2008 remains entirely consistent with the spirit of EU law and that the UK’s implementation in this manner therefore should not be regarded as an infringement.

IWA will continue to monitor the situation and make representations to the UK Government to resist pressures from Europe that would cause both additional cost and inconvenience to UK boat owners.

HS2 Progress Update - IWA Consultation Responses

As mentioned in the last Bulletin, IWA submitted its national response to the Design Refinements Consultation, and the much larger draft Environmental Statement, both relating to the London- Birmingham (and on to the West Coast Main Line) section, with stub connections to the Leeds and the Manchester arms.

IWA's response to the HS2 Design Refinement Consultation and response to the Consultation on HS2 Phase 1 Draft Environmental Statement are available online in the format requested by HS2. As the branch most affected by current proposals, IWA Lichfield Branch has submitted a separate response, which can be viewed on their Branch web page.

Selly Oak Update

Property developer Harvest’s latest proposal for the proposed development at the junction of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the Lapal Canal at Selly Oak went before Birmingham City Council Planning Committee on 27th June. An issue report took place where planning officers asked the elected members of the committee for their views on a selection of matters. During the meeting Harvest sought to downgrade the status of the need to reinstate the Lapal Canal from 'necessary' to 'desirable'.

In an attempt to have the local community’s voice heard, Community Partnership for Selly Oak (CP4SO) had delivered its objection and community plan to some elected members of the committee before the meeting. Many of these members were not in favour of the development plans and showed support for the CP4SO objections.

When plans from developers Harvest were first agreed by Birmingham City Council for the proposed new Sainsbury's store at Selly Oak, a corridor of land along the route of the old Dudley No2 Canal (also known as the Lapal Canal) was incorporated along with restoration of the canal, which would be funded by the developers. The canal would eventually connect with Hawne End, via the Lapal Tunnel and on to Dudley and Stourbridge. These plans have since changed with the developers withdrawing their commitment to reinstate the Lapal Canal and seeking for this to be labelled a desirable outcome rather than necessary.

IWA is supporting the campaign against this development as it does not include provisions for a viable reconstruction of the eastern end of the Lapal Canal. On 11th May 2013 Lapal Canal Trust held a boat rally on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to highlight the many problems with the plans that had then recently been submitted by Harvest to the Council.  The event was attended by members of the boating community illustrating the support the objection has.

IWA Guildford & Reading Branch Donation will Boost Canal Restoration and Flood Alleviation in Bramley

IWA Guildford & Reading Branch has presented The Wey & Arun Canal Trust with a cheque for £500. The money is intended to help fund the reconnection of the Wey and Arun Canal with the river Wey at Gun’s Mouth Island as well as the reconstruction work on the canal at Bramley.

The work in the Bramley area is particularly important as the canal could be used to provide flood alleviation in a housing area that regularly floods. Further consultations have to be carried out.  The current plans are likely to take at least a year to complete with bids for funding and further construction work planned following the completion of this initial stage.

Vacancy for volunteer with Marketing Expertise

The Association is looking for a member willing to advise on, and contribute, marketing expertise at a senior level.  This could involve a position on the board of the Association’s subsidiary company Inland Waterways Enterprises Ltd, and/or on IWA’s Finance Committee.  For an initial discussion, please contact Gordon Harrower, IWA National Treasurer (gordon.harrower@waterways.org.uk).

IWA Trustee Elections 2013

There will be no ballot for the election of trustees this year, either for nationally elected trustees or for the three region chairman posts that were available for nomination.  For the nationally elected trustees, there were just three nominations for the four vacancies.  Jim Shead and Ivor Caplan stood for second terms of three years, and Gren Messham (a deputy chairman of Finance Committee) stood for election.  Alasdair Lawrance and Ian West, who are due to complete terms of office, did not stand for re-election.  Peter Scott was the sole contender for the post of North East and Yorkshire Region Chairman.  There were no nominations for either East Midlands Region or Eastern Region.  John Pomfret did not stand for re-election as chairman of East Midlands Region, and Alastair Chambers resigned as region chairman in April 2013. The vacant region chairman posts will re-advertised in the November edition of Waterways, for nominations to be submitted by the beginning of January, and the nationally elected post remains vacant until the 2014 AGM.

About People 

We are saddened to report the recent death of John Taunton, former General Secretary of the Association from July 1974 until he retired in May 1991 (in the days when the Association was run from rooms in a Georgian town house in Regent's Park Road, and the Association had not, at that time, thought of engaging a chief executive or other senior staff).  John Taunton is remembered by many long-standing IWA members for his meticulous work and civil-service approach to supporting IWA officers during his employment.  

John was a Cambridge graduate and fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.  After 10 years as an exploration geologist he became warden of an outdoor pursuits centre in the Lake District for three years, which involved him in sailing and canoeing.  He then spent 10 years as Head of the Educational Department at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, living near the river Great Ouse.  As well as a keen dinghy sailor (and sailing secretary of Hunts Sailing Club), he was also a keen angler and fully embraced IWA's 'Waterways for All' campaign.  He joined IWA as General Secretary from his RSPB post, and stayed with IWA until retirement.  He moved to Plymouth shortly after retiring and was 87 at the time of his death; his wife June predeceased him two years ago. 

Photo: John Taunton courtesy of Waterways Images

IWA Branch and Region Magazines

The following IWA region and branch magazines have been added to the website since the last edition of the Bulletin:

East Midland Region - Aegre - Summer 2013

Great Ouse Branch - Ouse News - Summer 2013
North Riding Branch - The Northern Navigation News - Summer 2013

The following IWA region and branch magazines have been added in recent weeks:

Manchester Branch - Manchester Packet - Summer 2013
Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch - Shroppie Fly Paper - Summer 2013
Chiltern Branch - Chiltern Grapevine - Spring 2013

IWA Work Party Reports

Cheshire Locks Work Party - 18th June 2013 

On Thursday 18th June regular IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch volunteers supplemented by a number of new volunteers returned to Lawton Locks on the Trent & Mersey canal for the monthly Cheshire Locks work party.

This month’s work party saw the group undertaking vegetation work and painting at Lock 51.  After a good deal of hard work and effort, the end result showed a much smarter set of locks with the cobbles on the towpath once again fully displayed.  Many thanks to the returning volunteers and the new volunteers who came along for the day and also to CRT for usual support in terms of materials.

Next month, the Branch returns to the Lawton Locks on Saturday 20th July, where they will continue work on Lock 50. For further information visit the Branch web page.

Swansea Canal Himalayan Balsam Bash

Members of IWA South Wales Branch supported the Swansea Canal Society on their recent Himalayan Balsam work party over the weekend of 23rd/24th June. On the Saturday all the Himalayan Balsam along the towpath from Coed Gwilym Park to the Pontardawe playing fields (about half a mile) was pulled up, with more work being carried out on the Sunday. Volunteers were able to use the Swansea Canal Society’s new Rough Terrain Trolley (kindly donated by Vale Inco Nickel Works). Volunteers noticed a great improvement on the amount of Himalayan Balsam compared to the previous year, demonstrating that pulling the plant up before it flowers is a worthwhile activity.

Photo: Swansea Canal Balsam Bash 2013 courtesy of Martin Davies

Pocklington Canal Balsam Bash 

On Saturday 29th June a party of nine volunteers gathered at the CRT car park in Melbourne to take care of an outbreak of Himalayan Balsam. This was a joint effort by IWA East Yorkshire Branch and the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society (PCAS), supported by two of the local CRT team from Leeds.

Behind the moorings at Melbourne is an extensive area designated as a wildlife reserve and the Balsam was showing itself in a number of places, often mixed in among the nettles. A substantial amount was found and fortunately, the problem was tackled before the plants had flowered and set seed pods, which should reduce the chance of it spreading.

After taking welcome refreshments on board the PCAS trip boat New Horizons, the party moved to another site at Coates Bridge, further along the canal, where a small concentrated outbreak had been discovered near to the offside bridge abutment. This was a much less accessible area and warranted the wearing of lifejackets while working on the steep embankment close to the canal side.

IWA Northampton Branch’s First Work Party on Adopted Canal Stretch

The first birthday of Canal & River Trust on 2nd July was an auspicious date for the first of IWA Northampton Branch’s work parties on the 4¾ mile stretch of the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal representing probably the largest canal Adoption in the country.  As such, the work party captured the attention of the media with BBC Radio Northampton and an ITV Anglia News team turning out to interview volunteers and film them in action at Lock 17 at the bottom of the Arm. 

Lock 17, in the heart of Northampton at the gateway to the River Nene, had been chosen for the first assault because it was arguably the area most in need of some attention. It is also the entry point to the canal system from the river and first impressions count. Due to delays with a planned housing development with proposals to landscape the area around the recently restored and re-installed crane which replaces an earlier shelved pub development, the area was looking distinctly overgrown. In a very short period of time volunteers were able to complete a number of tasks to tidy up the lock area including litter picking, rubbish and vegetation clearance, weeding, applying paint to the lock gates and handrails, and painting bollards and the lock ladder landing. As a result the immediate area has been transformed looking brighter, smarter and distinctly tidier.

Interviews with Canal & River Trust Volunteer Team Leader Miriam Tedder and IWA Northampton’s Canal Adoption Officer David Higgins were broadcast live on BBC Radio Northampton’s Breakfast Show and as a result some listeners answered appeals to get involved and duly arrived at the Lock offering to volunteer. Asked why volunteers want to give their time for free to help care for our historic canals, David Higgins said: “It’s a job that needs doing and we all feel really quite passionate about the canals. If we can help, we want to.”

Dates for more task parties on the Northampton Arm will be announced shortly. All are welcome, not just IWA members. Canal & River Trust and IWA Northampton Branch will be working closely with local companies, residents associations, community and youth groups to encourage participation.

Ford Employees Help at IWA Work Party on the River Lee Navigation 

On Thursday 4th July five employees from Ford and two other volunteers joined IWA North & East London Branch’s work party at Three Mills Lane Bridge. CRT had kindly provided a work boat for the day so the first task was to clear the floating litter from this stretch of the River Lee Navigation before heading North to CRT’s wharf.

At the Wharf the volunteers spent a good few hours clearing the vegetation from the towpath, moving it to a nearby hedge so that it could compost and continue to provide a habitat for local wildlife.

The last job of the day involved travelling slightly further north to litter pick the access path that leads to the new floating towpath. Volunteers also removed the rabbit protectors from the Blackthorn that had been planted amongst the wild flowers. The litter collected filled twelve bin bags and a door was also retrieved from the water.

A good day was had by all, thank you to all the volunteers, Ford employees and the CRT team for supporting the event.

IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch – Himalayan Balsam Work Party

Members of IWA Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire Branch spent a productive day pulling up Himalayan Balsam growing in the vicinity of Falling Sands Bridge on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal on Friday 5th July.  As well as the branch members who turned out to lend a hand, two passers-by were interested enough to join in for an hour or two, and everyone’s help was much appreciated. 

The area had been identified last year as having particularly extensive spread of Himalayan Balsam, and the massive quantity of plants pulled up during the work party should allow native plants to thrive again in this area.  Some of the plants had reached over 9ft tall and the thickness of some of the stems was several inches in diameter, showing just how aggressively this plant can grow in the right conditions. 

The work was carried out in brilliant sunshine and the volunteers enjoyed the sight of the steam trains passing by on the nearby Severn Valley Railway viaduct. Whilst clearing the Himalayan Balsam on the area of ground between the canal and the river, volunteers were interested to discover an old tank with some form of water pump, possibly for pumping water from the river into the canal. The tank had been completely surrounded by Himalayan Balsam but is now more visible to passers by. 

Branch members have also been clearing the Himalayan Balsam growing around Mitton Chapel Bridge in Stourport. The Branch intend to repeat the exercise at Falling Sands for the next two years, as the seeds can live in the ground for 2 or 3 years, as well as extending the area covered down to Falling Sands Lock, where there is much more of this invasive plant growing between the canal and the River Stour and on the offside of the lock. 

IWA Manchester Branch Report on Lime Mortaring 

Cooperation between a private householder and CRT led to the holding of a two-day introduction course on stone walling and lime mortaring in Marple recently. The householder was most hospitable and pitched in to assist the three volunteers who wished to learn more about the subject. The wall in question was at the bottom of a fairly steep terraced garden that was adjacent to the disused swing bridge abutments between bridges 2 and 3 on the Macclesfield Canal. 

On day two it soon became apparent that some order had to be maintained as the old wall was taken apart and the new build took place next to it. It is quite surprising how many odd shaped stones come out of what was an orderly looking, but fragile wall. The first trick is to ensure a good solid base, no matter how far down the wall must be dismantled. The second is to use the large stones low down (easier to lift as well) whilst trying not to have vertical joints running into each other. We then found it was prudent to dry lay a course or two to ensure some uniformity, always remembering to tie through the course with the nice long stones if possible. Gaps between front and back courses were in-filled, in the main, with the unwanted rubble and mortar as the faces were mortared up.

IWA Volunteering Opportunities

National Committee Vacancy

Volunteer to advise on, and contribute, marketing expertise at a senior level - see note in the IWA news section above.

IWA Branch Volunteer Vacancies:

Have a look at the list of volunteer opportunities within local IWA committees. There is a full list of volunteer opportunities within IWA branches.


Other News

Canal & River Trust AGM 

Canal & River Trust held its Annual General Meeting on 9th July at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, was opened by Tony Hales (CRT chairman) and Vince Moran (CRT Operations Director) with a selection of key points. These included CRT’s disappointment with the postponement of the transferral of EA managed waterways to CRT, the success CRT are having with increasing their involvement of volunteers on the waterways and a financial summary from their operations team. 

Following this opening and a question and answer session, attendees separated into workshops. The workshops covered Waterways Partnerships, Restoration, Maintenance (and Climate Change), Waterways Art and Wildlife. The attendees were given the chance to discuss issues relating to the subject of the workshop and invited to share their suggestions on how challenges could be overcome. 

The AGM provided the opportunity for IWA branch and committee members present to be introduced to CRT’s new Chief Executive, Richard Parry (pictured above, centre, with Peter Bolt, IWA Chester & Merseyside Branch member, left, and Alan Platt, IWA Deputy National Chairman, right. Despite being new to the job and facing a busy day, Richard Parry took the time to discuss a variety of issues with IWA officers and other visitors present. 

A full report of CRT’s AGM and their accounts is available from CRT's website.

Environment Agency Water Environment Consultation

The Environment Agency has launched a major consultation on Water for life and livelihoods: Challenges and choices. This is available on the EA website. It affects all aspects of water management and there are implications for navigation and recreation on all waterways, regardless of navigation authority.

There is a national Challenges and Choices consultation document for England, and one for each river basin district. Alongside each river basin district consultation there is also a strategic environmental assessment scoping document that views are sought on. Further information about river basin districts, catchments, water bodies and the river basin management planning process can also be found on the EA website.

Cotswold Canals

Over the past few years there has been much talk and speculation about the possibility of Thames Water moving water supplies from the river Severn catchment to the Thames catchment via the Cotswold Canals.  This has now taken a step forward as the company has opened its draft 2014 Water Resource Management Plan for public consultation. The plan itself is a complex document that can be found on the Thames Water website but Cotswold Canals Trust has published a simple summary of the water transfer elements.

The Trust is encouraging supporters that the more people who submit comments supporting the use of the canal as a water transfer option, then the greater the likelihood of the scheme being taken forward.  The Trust believes that a water transfer using the canals could be the quickest route to full restoration.  The consultation process is open until Tuesday 23rd July. The easiest way to submit comments is by email to both water.resources@defra.gsi.gov.uk and consultations@thameswater.co.uk.  Just something along the lines of "I think it's an excellent idea to consider transferring water from the Severn catchment to the London area and Thames catchment using the existing route of the Cotswold Canals" would be suitable - but say it in your own words!

Grand Western Canal 

An official turf cutting was held at the Grand Western Canal on 8th July to mark the start of restoration work from the breach of its northern bank near the Swing Bridge at Halberton on 21st November last year, after water spilled over the top of the embankment during torrential downpours and flooding.

The canal's owners Devon County Council has estimated that more than 16 million litres of water (the equivalent of more than 100,000 bathtubs or 6.5 Olympic swimming pools) flowed through the 23-metre wide breach onto neighbouring farmland. Emergency services spent days pumping water away from the area to make the area safe.  Since then, the Council and its partners have been developing plans to reinstate the failed section of the canal and to introduce measures to reduce the likelihood of a similar occurrence. As well as repairing the breach, further works will be implemented to ensure the long term future of the whole canal. This includes inspections of all infrastructure along the canal, the installation of a water level monitoring alarm system, as well as additional and improved stop boards. The Council says that over the next few years, water management and associated infrastructure will also be improved along the whole canal.

The progress of the work will be dependent on site conditions and weather but the current programme is to initially establish a works compound and construct a temporary access track before the main repairs to the breached section of the canal embankment start in August. The embankment will be rebuilt within its existing footprint, but it will be slightly higher in order to provide protection against future overtopping. 

This will be followed by the installation of the new canal lining during November and December. The canal will be lined over the length of the embankment with an impervious material. This material will be covered and hidden and the repairs will eventually blend in with the existing canal. Much of the material that was washed out during the breach will be strengthened and re-used in order to limit the amount of material that needs to be brought to site by road. The speed of water flowing through the canal and discharging at the breach also caused significant erosion of the canal bed either side of the fault. This erosion will also need to be repaired.  Since the breach, half a mile of canal channel has been closed between Greenway Bridge and Rock Bridge, with a half-mile long towpath diversion in place between Swing Bridge and Watton Bridge.

The reinstatement of the towpath and refilling of the canal is then scheduled to be completed in early 2014.  The work, which is to be carried out by contractor South West Highways Ltd, is likely to last for around six months so that the canal can re-open in early 2014, which will be in time for the canal’s 200th anniversary and IWA's National Trail Boat Festival at the end of May 2014. 

Photo: Councillors Hannon (Devon County Council), Browse (Halberton Parish Council), Wilson (Mid-Devon District Council), Radford (Devon County Council and Mid Devon District Council) courtesy of Devon County Council.

Boat Safety Scheme Issue Advice on Barbeques

The Boat Safety Scheme has issued the following advice as the weather improves and barbeque usage increases.

As the barbeque summer finally arrives, BSS has a simple request, ‘If you see or hear of it happening, please advise your fellow boaters to never use a barbeque on board a boat - take it ashore, enjoy it safely and avoid the twin risks of fire and carbon monoxide.’

BSS is calling upon boaters to spread the safety messages by conversation on the mooring or through social media – enjoy the barbeque ashore.

Even on land be careful not to place a disposable barbeque where it could set alight wooden jetties, boardwalks, or dry grass and vegetation.  Barbeques need to be far enough away from the boat so that any hot embers blowing in the wind can’t reach boat furnishings, or any anything else that can burn, like newspapers or clothes.

The carbon monoxide risk is real and immediate. In the last 18 months, seven campers have died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by bringing disposable barbeques into, or near small and confined spaces of tents and awnings.

The lessons from camping that boaters need to take on board is that hot or warm charcoal produces dangerous amounts of the highly toxic gas, and continues to do so for hours after the cooking is over.  This means it is never safe to have a lit or cooling barbeque in a cabin or covered cockpit area. The only safe charcoal is that which is absolutely cold.

Lastly, before you dispose of used charcoal double-check that it is completely cold to the touch, either let it burn out in a safe place protected from wind and go cold or pour water onto the fire. Used charcoal should be disposed of responsibly.

Carbon Monoxide Safety on Boats safety information can be downloaded from the BSS website.

Access for all at the Chesterfield Canal Festival 

The Chesterfield Canal styles itself as "A Waterway for All", so Chesterfield Canal Trust made this year’s Festival as wheelchair friendly as possible. The result was a good turnout of people whose access to waterways facilities can often be limited.

The whole site at Staveley Town Basin is accessible. Two of Chesterfield Canal Trust’s tripboats have lifts, which were in frequent use; the Trust borrowed some wheelchairs to lend out; Derbyshire Countryside Service had a mobility scooter for hire and a free connecting bus service to Barrow Hill Roundhouse included a minibus with a tail lift.

The Wheelyboat Trust brought their Mark lll wheelchair accessible boat and gave free trips along the canal. This was hugely popular because of the ease with which wheelchairs could roll straight on and off.

Additionally, the Trust ran all three of its tripboats, two of which were brought by road from the eastern end of the canal – Staveley Town Basin is on the isolated western stretch; the Trust is campaigning for the remaining eight-mile gap to be closed. There was a trip every fifteen minutes over the two days and all were full.

Bow Back Rivers Update

At present the Olympic Park reconstruction site incorporates the Bow Back Rivers. Boats are, therefore, barred from the area because of the Health and Safety rules that such construction sites must adhere to. Additionally, City Mill River remains blocked whilst the Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail Bridges are realigned.  The Olympic Legacy Development Corporation is offering some  boat trips to local residents so they can see the work being undertaken in the Olympic Park. However, the waterways themselves will not reopen until mid-2014.

Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Trip Boat 

On 3rd July Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust received its brand new community boat when the John Bunyan was craned gently into the Great Ouse at Bedford's Priory Marina – the result of two years’ planning and fundraising by the Trust.  On 9th July, the boat was officially named before a gathering of local councillors and officials, Trust members, supporters and sponsors. Guests of honour were the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Trust Patron, Sir Samuel Whitbread. 

The new £150,000 purpose-built river boat, measuring 72 foot long and 10 foot wide, will accommodate up to 70 passengers. As a trip boat, it is available for hire to schools and colleges, community groups, businesses and individuals for parties and weddings. Operated by the Trust's volunteer crews, the boat will ply the river Great Ouse from Bedford to Kempston and eastwards to Great Barford. Over 100 similar community boats are registered across England but John Bunyan is believed to be the first in the area.

Photo courtesy of Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterways Trust

An Appeal for Help from Wilts & Berks Canal Trust

Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is looking for a traditional narrowboat to visit Abingdon (Oxfordshire, on the Thames) for National Heritage Weekend in September.

Abingdon takes part in the National Heritage Weekend, which this year takes place on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th September. In recent years, Martin Buckland from the Trust has led walks along the historic and proposed new route of the Wilts & Berks Canal. These have proved very popular with 28 people taking part last year all armed with the Trust’s canal walks leaflet. As a result the Canal is gaining prominence in Abingdon's history and will feature on the new interpretation boards around the town, which will be in place by September for the National Heritage Weekend.

The organising committee would like to have a traditional cargo narrowboat moored on the Thames near St Helen's Wharf, which people could see and even better visit on Sunday 15th. If no cargo craft are available, a touring craft would be welcome. It is intended that a descriptive board about the craft would be displayed nearby.

If you are able to help please contact Martin Buckland direct at martin.buckland1@ntlworld.com or 01235 204 115.

Max Sinclair

Max Sinclair, a founder member of the Droitwich Canals Trust, winner of the English Heritage Angel Award for the Best Rescue of a Historic Industrial Building or Site and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award  from The Transport Trust, has recently heard from the Town Clerk of Droitwich that he will be receiving another award. Max will be presented with the Town Freedom, a medal and an illuminated address at a Civil Ceremony Dinner on the 23rd September. These awards all recognise the work he put towards organising the restoration of the Droitwich Canals as well as the hours dedicated by the many volunteers who were fundamental in the success of the project.

142 Mile Walk Along the Grand Union Canal Planned to Raise Money for Charity

Between Monday 22nd and Tuesday 30th July Trevor Langley will be walking the 142 miles along the Grand Union Canal from Birmingham to London. He hopes to raise £500 for The CAW Foundation, which raises funds to help children and young people who want to get involved in Music, Drama, Sport or Community Projects. Details on how to sponsor Trevor can be found in his blog.


IWA Member Discounts and Special Offers

The following special offers are now available exclusively for IWA members:

  • Airedale Cruising - 10% Discount off skippered day cruises
  • Boatshed Grand Union - 10% discount on brokerage
  • Calcutt Boats - 5% Discount
  • Channel Glaze - 10% discount on double glazing for boats
  • Cotswold Outdoor - 10% discount
  • Europcar - Special hire rates to IWA members
  • Guildford Boat House- 20% discount
  • Grand Union Diesel Services - 5% discount
  • Lee Sanitation Ltd. - 10% on orders over £100
  • Midland Chandlers - 5% discount
  • Narrowboat Services - 10% discount
  • River Canal Rescue - up to 15% discount
  • RoadPro - 5% discount
  • UK Boat Hire - 15% discount
  • UltimateBerths.com - Free Listing
  • Willowbridge Marina - 10% discount on chandlery purchases and services in the yard
  • Worcester Marine Windows Ltd - 5% discount
  • Wyvern Shipping Co. Ltd - 10% discount on published prices
  • Zead - Free postage and accessories

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 NarrowBoat subscription

Boat Insurance

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


Waterway Events

Major IWA Festivals and Boat Rallies

19th - 21st July IWA National Festival - Cassiobury Park, Watford, Hertfordshire 

Other Festivals and Boat Rallies


20th - 21st July Pershore Town River Festival
20th - 21st July Preston Riversway Festival
27th July Linslade Canal Festival
28th July Audlem Festival of Transport


10th - 11th August Blisworth Canal Festival
24th - 26th August North Cheshire Cruising Club Boat Gathering


1st September Angel Canal Festival - Festival of London Waterways
7th - 8th September Slough Canal Festival - Festival of London Waterways
6th - 15th September Mayor's River Thames Festival
13th - 15th September Burnley Canal Festival
14th - 15th September Village at War Weekend (Stoke Bruerne)
21st - 22nd September Whitchurch Gathering of Boats
21st - 22nd September Huddlesford Heritage Gathering


6th October Banbury Canal Day

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.

See IWA's Events Calendar for a full list of waterway events. You can also search by event type or find out what's going in on your area with the map search.

Upcoming Volunteer/Clean-up Events

18th July Work Party - Lapworth (IWA Warwickshire Branch)
20th July Work Party - Cheshire Locks, Trent & Mersey Canal (IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch)
20th July Work Party - Lapworth (IWA Warwickshire Branch)
24th July Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Marsworth (IWA Chiltern Branch)
26th July Work Party - Leeds & Liverpool Canal (IWA West Riding Branch)
27th July Work Party - Salterhebble Locks (IWA West Riding Branch)
27th July Work Party - Greater Manchester (IWA Manchester Branch)
28th July Work Party - Bugsworth Basin (The Inland Waterways Protection Society)
1st August Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Caldon Canal (IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch)
9th August Work Party - Leeds & Liverpool Canal (IWA West Riding Branch)
3rd August Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Lune Aqueduct (IWA Lancashire & Cumbria Branch)
11th August Himalayan Balsam Work Party - Caldon Canal (IWA North Staffs & South Cheshire Branch)

To advertise your restoration/cleanup events in the bulletin please add details to IWA's events calendar

Upcoming Towpath Walks

23rd July Towpath Walk - Grand Union Canal, Bletchley (Railway & Canal Historical Society)
4th August London Towpath Walk (IWA London Region)
10th August Walk - Milton Cross (Friends of Leominster Canal)

To advertise your towpath walks in the Bulletin, please add details to IWA's events calendar


Contact Us

IWA Head Office, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA

01494 783 453


Bulletin is edited by Stefanie Preston