Thursday, 31 March 2011

A new era for the Waterways

A consultation on the Future of Inland Waterways in England and Scotland.

At a meeting hosted yesterday by our ex-Vice President Richard Beynon, the Waterways Minister, Defra (the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) formally launched a consultation on proposals to replace British Waterways in England and Wales by a New Waterways Charity. Navigable waters controlled by the Environment Agency could be incorporated at a later stage.

The objective is to secure a sustainable future for our waterways. The proposed new charity would be similar in size to the British Red Cross or Save the Children. To give this charity a good start, Government funding is guaranteed until 2023, at the level of the agreed 2012 grant of £39 Million. BW’s present extensive property portfolio, which already accounts of about 40% of BW’s income, will be transferred to the new charity as well.

The results of the consultation will have a huge and fundamental effect on the way in which our waterways are run in future years. We urge all those interested in any aspect of our waterways to read the consultation document in full and to make their views known to Defra, either by responding to any (or all) of the 29 questions that they pose in the document and/or by sending other comments that you consider appropriate.

The consultation document can be downloaded from:

Impact on the K&A Canal Trust

Clearly, the establishment of this new charity will have a direct impact on the way your own Trust operates in the future. There are, for example, many areas in which we might end up in a competition for funding, volunteers, commercial activities, etc. Your Trust will be making a formal response to the proposals in due course. To do this properly, we need the views of our members.

The Trustees will therefore be holding three consultation meetings over the next few months, to discuss the Defra proposals and to review any possible impacts on the way that the Trust operates. We will also be undertaking a parallel web-based survey. These activities will ensure that the Trust has enough time to prepare a well-reasoned response reflecting member views, and will also assist us in ensuring that we are in fit state ourselves to face this new era!

So please respond to the Defra consultation yourselves, but do also send a copy of your response (photocopy or e-mail), plus any other comments you think relevant, to the Trust Office at Devizes ( We will not be able to answer detailed questions about the Defra proposals but we will ensure that your views are taken into account when preparing the Trust's response. (Please also remember when responding to Defra that you are giving your own views. By all means mention that you are an active member of a well-respected canal society, but please don't state or even imply that you are responding on behalf of the Trust. That response will be prepared by our Trustees, only after we have received the views from as many of our members as possible. Please help us by making your views known to us in good time!)

Timescale? The Defra consultation opened on 30 March and responses can be submitted any time before the closing date, the 30th June 2011.

Mike Rodd

Chair of the Trust Council

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