I write to express our concerns regarding the proposed take-over of the navigational responsibilities by the Canal and River Trust (CRT) of the waters currently managed by the Environment Agency (EA).
Since 1991, the National Association of Boat Owners (NABO) is the only organisation that solely represents the interests of private boaters on Britain’s canals and rivers that are managed by either CRT or the EA. We exist to ensure that boaters’ voices can be heard when decisions are being made that might affect their boating.
We are actively involved in supporting CRT: within our managing Council we have two Council members on CRT’s Navigation Advisory Group (Licensing and Mooring), one member on the Navigation Advisory Group (Operations) and three Council members on the Boat Safety Standards Committee. As well as being the current chair of NABO, I am also an elected boater’s representative on CRT’s Council.
We are deeply concerned that the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways is not seeking the views of boating organisations such as NABO, either through attendance or in writing.
We are NOT in favour of CRT taking over responsibility for the waters currently managed by the EA. In our view, from a boater’s perspective, CRT has yet to demonstrate that it is able to maintain and improve the canals and rivers. Indeed there remains an ongoing and increasing need for dredging and lock maintenance to ensure year-round navigation.
We also do not feel that splitting the role of the EA between navigation and flood relief will be efficient, nor will CRT be able to adequately assess and future-proof the funding required to manage its increased responsibilities.
Our further concern is that the Waterways Partnerships, which were seen by DEFRA as key to the introduction of additional, locally-sourced funds for CRT, have failed miserably and are instead now an additional expense.
We feel it is important that Parliament should be made aware of the views of dedicated boating groups such as NABO. We intend to make the content of this email public.
I would be pleased to clarify any of the points raised above.