The Middle Level Bill
IWA welcomes the revival of this Bill, which would bring Middle Level Commissioners into line with other navigation authorities by enabling better waterway management powers and increased provision of facilities in connection with their navigation function.
26th October 2018 - Middle Level Bill clears final hurdle
8th March 2018 - Middle Level Bill Has Progressed to the House of Lords
25th January 2018 - Middle Level Bill progresses in Parliament
26th October 2017 - Hear Hear - Middle Level Bill to Proceed
Reasons to support the Bill
- The Middle Level Bill would bring the Middle Level Commissioners into line with other navigation authorities by enabling better waterway management powers and increased provision of facilities in connection with their navigation function.
- Enabling the Commissioners to levy charges in respect of vessels using the Middle Level waterways would allow the Commissioners to spend the money raised on providing moorings and facilities, which they are currently unable to do. The Middle Level is woefully short of facilities, but the extra income generated by boat licensing will be re-invested by the MLC to start to make up the shortfall.
- Giving the Commissioners the ability to charge where vessels overstay time limits in force at a mooring place. The 36 hour visitor mooring facilities in March are clogged up with boats which have been there for months, and which ignore the time limits. These reasonable restrictions are currently unenforceable, and much of the time there are no visitor moorings available. This mitigates the positive economic benefits of leisure traffic. If you can’t moor, you can’t spend your money!
- The Bill would enable the Commissioners to remove sunken, stranded and abandoned vessels which are currently creating a hazard.
- On navigations managed by almost all other navigation authorities, including Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency, boats are required to have a minimum of third party insurance and a valid Boat Safety Certificate. The Boat Safety Scheme covers, amongst other things, safe gas installations and safe gas cylinder storage, safe fuel installations, adequate ventilation, provision of fire blankets and fire extinguishers, and a recommendation for the use of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. At the moment boats based on the Middle Level Navigation are not subject to these checks (although it is a requirement of MLC Byelaws, there is no mechanism, such as a licensing system, for checking that boats - other than boats visiting from other waterways - have a valid boat safety certificate) and lives are being put at risk as a result. The proposed Bill will provide safeguards to everyone living on a boat, as well as those around them.
- The argument that has been put forward by some, that any charge associated with residential boats contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights, doesn’t hold up under examination. People living in houses are subject to a variety of charges, such as local authority Council Tax. Boat residents on the Middle Level Navigations would still have the same rights as people living afloat on other waterways.
- The argument that the Bill potentially extinguishes historic rights of way falls down on several grounds. Ancient rights of navigation may exist on rivers, but without obvious exception, licence fees must be paid to the Navigation Authority on all our rivers. The Middle Level waterways are generally man made in any case, with leisure boating only having developed since the 1960s, prior to which all the boats on the Levels were commercial boats which were subject to the payment of tolls.