Waterways Minister Makes Key Statement on Third Sector and Possible Waterways Merger

Issue date: 22 June 2010

June 21 2010 ...  The Waterways Minister Richard Benyon MP made the following written statement .  

‘I am pleased to be appointed as Waterways Minister as I am familiar with the public benefits the waterways provide and I am making this statement to set out how I intend to take forward inland waterways policy for England and Wales.  The Government considers civil society has a very valuable role to play in delivering public services as part of our commitment to creating a Big Society.  We will therefore be continuing to look in detail at whether a third sector model would be appropriate for British Waterways, including the possible inclusion of the Environment Agency’s navigations as the other navigation authority grant aided by Government.  My department will be engaging a wide range of stakeholders in this work (and liaising with the Scottish Government). However I must make clear that, given the Government’s overriding objective of reducing the financial deficit, no decisions on such a change will be taken until after the forthcoming Spending Review. In the light of this I have also decided not to proceed now with a new Government waterways strategy and I will review the situation following the Spending Review.’

IWA views on BW and Third Sector

IWA has been lobbying hard for a form of waterways conservancy , initially arising from an amalgamation of the two main government funded navigation authorities, British Waterways (BW) and the Environment Agency (EA) navigations as one body, with the possibility of other navigations voluntarily joining at a later date.

IWA is therefore pleased to receive news of the Waterway Minister’s statement on the 21 June concerning Government’s views and intentions to consider the implications of integration of the EA navigations as part of a move by BW to the third sector. IWA is also pleased that the Minister has signalled his intention for Defra to undertake to engage with stakeholders on this work ahead of the Spending Review in the Autumn.