In July 2012 the Canal and Rivers Trust took over the responsibilities for the inland waterways previously managed by British Waterways,
Government endowed the new trust with some £500million in assets and property and also agreed an ongoing grant totalling approximately £800million over the ensuing 15 years to 2027. From that time the C&RT also became free of government shackles and able to identify and grow new sources of income.
The EA waterways – the Thames, Anglian. Little Ouse/Great Ouse and Medway were originally intended to be included in the new trust but, due to a number of issues, not least the complexity and extent of additional funding required, government decided to leave the transfer of these inland waterways until another day.
So, EA waterways remain firmly under the control of Defra and the Environment Agency and, whereas the canal system now enjoys security of income and is largely the master of its own future, we on the Thames are witnessing at first hand the devastating effects of the government austerity programme and the impact on maintenance and services to river users.
Thames boaters may like to compare the £50million p.a. plus in protected grants enjoyed by the C&RT to the little more than £5million(and reducing) p.a. reaching the EA Thames budget. We, as private powered craft owners contribute some £3million in registration fees – sad to say, after overheads, little more than half of that actually reaches the coalface.
I think thats enough to explain why we are experiencing problems with maintenance and lock manning – the question is what can we do about it?
The following statement has been issued today by the Environment Agency:
Review of Environment Agency navigation
The Environment Agency (EA) and Canal & River Trust (the Trust) have established a joint working group to explore different options for running the 620 miles of EA-managed river navigations. It still remains the Government’s ambition to transfer the EA’s responsibility for navigation of the rivers to the Trust, subject to affordability and approval by the Trust’s Board and the Minister. This will help realise the benefits of a sustainable navigation and give the public greater involvement in the running of the waterways.
The working group is at a very early, information gathering stage, and no decisions have yet been made on the details of a potential move.
The working group will begin with an information and data gathering exercise looking at all of the EA’s navigations, including: the non-tidal River Thames; the River Wye; the upper Medway; the East Anglian navigations and Rye Harbour.
As the project moves forward the working group will investigate the various potential options required for such a complex move and will be seeking to understand your views and aspirations as well as those of other stakeholders.
The EA, the Trust and Defra are committed to finding a sustainable future for the EA’s river navigations and to working with the communities who use them.
The Canal & River Trust was established in 2012 to care for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, including around 1,600 miles of canals, more than 300 miles of river navigations, as well as associated docks, locks, bridges, feeders, reservoirs, embankments and aqueducts.
The Environment Agency was established in 1996 to protect and improve the environment and is responsible for:
regulating major industry and waste
treatment of contaminated land
water quality and resources
inland river, estuary and harbour navigations
conservation and ecology
managing the risk of flooding from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea.
Sir James Bevan has been appointed Chief Executive of the Environment Agency
Announcement on .gov.uk HERE
The EA are rolling out new signs at locks to replace the old Strong Stream and Self Service signs. Interchangeable panels allow various combinations of information to be displayed.
The centre panel can be changed to show “Self Service” in white on a blue background so should be easy to recognise from a distance. The lower panel can display Strong Stream warnings in yellow or red.
The whole panel is the same size as the old Self Service signs.
A new discussion document has been added to the Key Issues area of the website –
“The River Funding Dilemma – update July 2015”