Issue date: 22nd May 2015
A campaign cruise organised by the Lincolnshire Branch of national waterways charity, The Inland Waterways Association (IWA), from Boston to Spalding on the River Welland, had to be cancelled in May due to failure by the Environment Agency to maintain Fulney Lock in a navigable condition. The lock gates cannot be operated due to a build-up of silt in the lock gate recesses.
IWA had planned to assemble a flotilla of up to 8 boats which would moor in Spalding to demonstrate the unrealised potential for tourism and economic development that recreational boating returning to Spalding will bring when the Fens Waterways Link is completed.
The River Welland is an historic navigation stretching back to the time when the river was tidal up to and beyond Spalding. Fulney Lock is a flood defence structure, on the outskirts of Spalding, which is part of the tidal defences for Spalding and the surrounding low lying land of South Holland. EA operating procedures specify that the structure is available for navigation when tides are level with the normal retained height of water through the town. The historic statutory navigation rights extend back to when Spalding was a significant trading port.
IWA started planning the cruise in November 2014 with a view to supporting the Fens Waterways Link project by demonstrating that even now it is possible to cruise from Boston to Spalding and up the Welland as far as Peakirk (near Peterborough). In late April 2015 EA effectively closed the navigation due to their failing to clear siltation behind the lock gates making them impossible to open. A similar cruise was planned in 2012 but also failed for the same reason. It is not clear whether navigation has been possible since 2012. As recently as 2001 the lock was navigable having been documented by a group of boaters known as the “Tuesday Night Club”.
The cruise was planned with the help and support of Fosdyke Yacht Haven who act as harbour authority on the River Welland tidal outfall from Fulney Lock to the Wash.
On hearing that the cruise had been cancelled, IWA National Chairman, Les Etheridge, said "There are various parts of the EA network currently unavailable for use. IWA wants to see them all restored to working order as soon as possible and to ensure there is adequate funding to keep them operational."
Notes for Editors
About The Inland Waterways Association:
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA), a registered charity, leads campaigns to conserve, maintain and restore Britain’s network of canal and river waterways. With a membership of around 16,000, IWA provides a strong voice for waterways users, working with navigation authorities, local and national government and other organisations to keep all our waterways alive. www.waterways.org.uk