The All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group Communique On The Future Of The Inland Waterways

Issue date: 19th January 2012

The All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group has issued a communiqué following a hearing on 8 December to provide the Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon MP, with the opportunity to respond to the Group’s Memorandum – The Future of the Waterways. This was published and submitted to the Government in July, focussing on appropriate governance and financing for the Canal & River Trust which is planned to come fully into being in April 2012, inheriting responsibility for British Waterways’ inland waterways network. The Memorandum was prepared after two earlier hearings into these issues in order to provide a Parliamentary response to Defra’s consultation A New Era for the Waterways on the Government’s proposals for moving inland waterways into a new charity in England & Wales.

The 8th December hearing was chaired by former Waterways Minister the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP and attended by a number of MPs and representatives of a wide range of organisations which play important roles in relation to our canals and other waterways. The hearing also gave the Minister and the charity’s Transition Trustees the opportunity to provide a broader report on progress to deliver a fully operational charity in 2012.

This Communiqué has been approved by the All Party Group as an accurate summary of the discussion and the Group also approves its publication and distribution to waterways stakeholders and other interested parties.

Read Communiqué in full

Speaking on behalf of IWA, Paul Roper, chairman of IWA’s navigation committee said:

‘We welcome the publication of this Communiqué by APPWG.  IWA has always said that the £39m per annum was not enough. We argued that this had to be improved. 

We also welcome the Minister’s express recognition of concerns raised by IWA over the proposed amendments to the system for classifying waterways in the Transport Act 1968. He gave an assurance that any application from the Trust to reclassify a waterway would be subject to a full cost benefit analysis and wide consultation with those likely to be affected as required by the Transport Act. Additionally he did not want or expect to see closures of any waterways, as that would not be constructive. He stated that Government wanted to ensure that in the medium term there was scope for a reduction in the percentage of assets that were in poor and very poor condition. He also  added that the Government wanted the existing network to be both maintained and enhanced.’

For more information please contact Jo Gilbertson or David Padfield on 01494 783453

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