PRESS RELEASE: IWA Objects to Sale of EA Moorings in Ely

Issue date: 31st August 2017

IWA has written to Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency, to ask him to withdraw the sale of three lengths of moorings in Ely.  The plots amount to over 300 metres of river frontage in total, and have been offered by private auction, together or separately, with a closing date of 8th September.  IWA considers that this is extremely short-sighted given that the businesses and moorings at this location bring in an income to EA as the navigation authority.   

IWA is extremely concerned at the impact the sale will have on the three waterway-related businesses based on 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.  Bridge Boatyard brings between 2000 and 2500 people on to the river each year on their hire boats, the loss of which would have 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.

IWA understands that the land is being sold as it is considered “surplus to operational requirements” but it is IWA’s view that the moorings and the hire business at the site should be considered as essential for income and the future sustainability of the river and the land should therefore be retained in EA ownership.  

IWA National Chairman, Les Etheridge, said “IWA considers that EA has a statutory duty, through the Anglian Water Authority Act 1977, to support recreational use of the River Great Ouse, not to hinder it.  Whether the Environment Agency continues to be the navigation authority or whether these waterways are transferred to Canal & River Trust, we think that ongoing income is essential in preventing further asset deterioration and waterway closures, and in optimising the leisure, tourism, health, well-being and economic benefits of these waterways.”  

As well as asking for the sale of these three moorings to be withdrawn, IWA has also asked Sir James for details of any other land, property or assets being considered for disposal elsewhere on the River Great Ouse, or on any other navigation run by the Environment Agency.  Where these are providing an income to EA or being used for moorings, IWA considers that they should be retained for long term benefit. 

ENDS

Photographs

Part of the river frontage in Ely that EA intends to sell. 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 alison.smedley@waterways.org.uk 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.

www.waterways.org.uk

Part of the river frontage in Ely that EA intends to sell. Photo courtesy of Bridge Boatyard.

Higher resolution versions and alternative images available on request. 

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