NABO has responded to the cross department Government consultation entitled Waterways for Everyone.
DEFRA issued the consultation in December 2009, to gather views in order to form a new Government policy document. This is intended to replace the previous document 'Waterways for Tomorrow'. DEFRA held several workshops in 2009 before issuing the formal consultation. Regrettably, despite a lot of effort and input by NABO and other user groups, little or none of the input was incorporated in the consultation document as presented in December.
Earlier this year there have been several presentations and meetings with other user groups to understand the consultation and co-ordinate responses. NABO was fully represented in these meetings.
DEFRA will consolidate the submissions and respond in May. We should not expect that this is finalised until after the General Election. The new Government will need to put their stamp on it. The challenge then will be to persuade them to provide the funding needed to maintain the system even its current condition.
NABO chairman, David Fletcher commented
“There are not many new issues that arise from this consultation. You will recognise the response we have made, robustly demonstrating the wide contribution that boaters already make to the waterways and pointing out that others need to do their part.
NABO Members will all agree that the key to the future prosperity of the waterways is the funding. DEFRA's policy of encouraging local authorities and communities to contribute to the funding is laudable but patchy and currently insufficient to recognise as a turning point. The fact that the consultation is a joint DEFRA, DCLC and DFT document is welcome and important, but what we see written so far is bland and without meaningful commitment.
Personally I cannot see the current arrangement of a junior (DEFRA) Waterways Minister achieving the clout that this needed for success with local authorities and DFT.
I would like to thank the NABO members who contributed to the response for their time, effort and expertise."
The response deadline was 26 March 2010.
Click here to read the NABO response.
Click here for the DEFRA web site page for the full consultation