IWA Response to Waterways for Everyone

Issue date: 5 May 2010

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) has issued its response to the Defra consultation on Waterways for Everyone.


In making its response, the IWA invites government to toughen up its commitment to the inland waterways both in terms of contribution of funding to maintain the publicly stated benefits in ‘Waterways for  Everyone’, and in government’s priority actions, in particular, IWA believes that government should do more to:  


  • decide what needs to be done to bring the waterways into good condition and to provide a lead in achieving the financial packaging required to achieve that, including grant to the publicly owned waterways. This should include facilitating volunteering on the publicly funded waterways so that it can make a greater impact and help deliver a high quality waterways network – to be achieved within 5 years.
  • change planning guidance and the planning system, as appropriate, so that planning authorities protect the lines of all disused waterways that have realistic prospects of being brought back into   use.
  • reappraise the approach given to incentivising the transfer of freight carriage onto inland waterways so that the current grant system is replaced by a fresh package of financial incentives that are sufficiently attractive to ensure that there is a marked increase in the transportation of goods and materials by waterway.
  • encourage the waterway authorities to voluntarily agree to a marketing proposition that presents the waterways with a common identity to become imprinted on the nation’s consciousness; and
  • finally, with the above building blocks in place, help facilitate the launch of an Inland Waterways Conservancy (IWC), as a third sector organisation embracing as a minimum the waterways currently operated by the publicly owned waterway authorities and flexible enough to incorporate other waterways when appropriate, with a long term service contract and associated Service Level Agreement from central government to reflect the public benefits delivered by the waterways – to be achieved within 10 years.

Speaking on behalf of IWA, Clive Henderson national chairman said:

‘We consider that the document produced for consultation is good in terms of detailing the public agenda and in setting the background and context. However, we believe that it is currently seriously compromised in not providing enough focus on what actions are needed to be done to achieve the outcomes, nor is there enough rigour on deliverability. The actions for government are identified but not with a clear course of action, and there is no such listing for other bodies and organisations. ’

 He continued :

‘We also believe that with over 5,000kms of navigable waterways in the ownership or control of over 30 waterway authorities, strategic consideration should now be given to how these could be more efficiently managed so that there are greater synergies to achieve cost efficiencies and a consistent high quality customer focus.’

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