EA Waterways Under Threat - Welches Dam Lock

Issue date: 17th October 2011

Notorious for being connected by the system's smallest lock (47 ft) to the system's leakiest cut, this lock has been closed by stealth by the EA for several years by a “temporary” coffer dam, ostensibly to prevent water seepage, but in fact severing passage, of which there is a statutory right enshrined in law. Unfortunately EA denies it has a statutory responsibility to fix the lock, and even if they did, it’s too costly for the limited use in the current circumstances regarding funding.

The issue might eventually be sorted by the provision of the final stage of the proposed Fenlands Link, should this ever reach fruition. But in the meantime an important principle is at stake, what to do about a navigation authority not acting to carry out its legal responsibilities. It’s a matter that is currently taxing IWA’s Peterborough Branch and IWA’s Navigation Committee. IWA has taken preliminary legal soundings citing an option to pursue a court case incurring a possible legal bill of over £100,000.

IWA national chairman Clive Henderson and Navigation Committee chairman Paul Roper are to meet with representatives from the Peterborough Branch shortly to consider possible campaign options. In addition to legal action, an alternative course may be to investigate acquiring a temporary lease for the waterway and utilising volunteers to restore the waterway possibly with a larger lock, as was historically undertaken for the southern Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.