PRESS RELEASE: Ely Moorings Success

Issue date: 12th January 2018

IWA’s campaign to stop the Environment Agency from selling off river frontage in Ely to private bidders has achieved a successful result, with the news that the local council will be buying the land. IWA would have preferred the land to remain in the ownership of EA, for future navigation income and legacy, but welcomes the purchase by East Cambridgeshire District Council which means that the land will remain in public ownership.  

IWA hopes that this will bring a more secure future to the three waterway-related businesses based at the site:  Bridge Boatyard, which has been operating for over 40 years and which is now the only holiday boat hire company on the River Great Ouse, hotel barge Water Nimf and The Boat Yard boat restoration business. 

The 3 plots of land, amounting to over 300 metres of river frontage in total, had been offered for sale by private auction last summer.  IWA considered that this was extremely short-sighted given that the businesses and moorings at this location bring in an income to EA as the navigation authority, and wrote to the head of the Environment Agency, the Waterway Minister, MPs and leaders at East Cambridgeshire District Council to raise concerns.  As a result of the number of representations received, the Environment Agency confirmed to IWA several weeks after the closing date for bids that it was reviewing the situation. 

Bridge Boatyard brings between 2000 and 2500 people on to the river each year on their hire boats, the loss of which would have had a serious effect on the tourism and leisure use of the river and consequently on the economy of Ely and other towns and villages along the river through loss of visitor spend.

After an uncertain few months for the businesses based at the site, the announcement this week in a letter from EA to IWA, stating that the land would remain in public ownership through its sale to the council, has been welcomed by the Association.  IWA Eastern Region Chairman, Chris Howes, said “East Cambridgeshire District Council is to be congratulated on their acquisition and stepping in to keep the waterside businesses going.  We understand that the Council has ambitions for the regeneration of this part of the City of Ely and hope that in developing this area the current navigation and leisure activities will be preserved and encouraged.”



Part of the river frontage at Ely which the Environment Agency is selling. Photo courtesy of Bridge Boatyard.

Higher resolution versions and alternative images available on request. 

Press Contact

For further information please contact Alison Smedley, Press Office, The Inland Waterways Association, by emailing or phoning 07779 090915.

Notes for Editors

The Inland Waterways Association

IWA is The Inland Waterways Association, a membership charity that works to protect and restore the country's 6,500 miles of canals and rivers.  IWA is a national organisation with a network of volunteers and branches who deploy their expertise and knowledge to work constructively with navigation authorities, government and other organisations.  The Association also provides practical and technical support to restoration projects through its expert Waterway Recovery Group.

IWA - Keeping our waterways alive.

Part of the river frontage in Ely. Photo courtesy of Bridge Boatyard.

Higher resolution versions and alternative images available on request.