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Displaying items by tag: Fund Britain’s Waterways

A flotilla of boats delivered a visual and vocal message to Westminster on Tuesday (14 November) that funding cuts for Britain’s canals and rivers are unacceptable and damaging.

Cheered on by a group of supporters on Westminster Bridge, the mix of leisure and commercial boats drew parliamentarians’ attention to their presence by sounding their horns and holding station outside the Palace of Westminster.

The boaters and supporters acted on behalf of a new campaign group, Fund Britain’s Waterways, which represents over 100 organisations with varying interests in the waterways. The group is campaigning to ensure that there is sufficient funding to retain the huge environmental, economic and social benefits that Britain’s inland waterways are widely acknowledged to provide.

Tuesday’s Westminster cruise built on the success of well-supported campaign cruises earlier in the year in Birmingham and Gloucester. And more events are being planned in the run up to the next UK general election.

Sir David Suchet, a long-term supporter of the waterways and a vice president of the Inland Waterways Association, said: “Our waterways are valued and used by millions of people. Over the years volunteers have not only worked to protect and restore them but also ensured that governments appreciate their value. I am pleased to see this proud tradition continue.”

Christine Kemp, a long-standing waterway volunteer and live-aboard boater who was part of Tuesday’s campaign cruise added: “Who would have thought after the 2007 campaign cruise against DEFRA cuts that we would need to be here again in 2023, asking the government to look after our heritage and infrastructure?

“My boat is my home, and I spend time volunteering to help keep the canals in as good a condition as we can, but cuts to waterways funding will have a devastating effect on the canals and my way of life.

“Our waterways are one of the things that make this country special — serious cuts to their funding risk losing them for everyone.”

Published in Inland Waterways

The need to fund Britain’s waterways will be heard from the River Thames this Tuesday 14 November (14/11) at 14:11 as boats gather off the Palace of Westminster to show their concerns.

A flotilla of around 20 boats dressed with banners for Fund Britain’s Waterways, a new coalition of waterways stakeholders, will pass under Westminster Bridge after travelling upstream along the Thames from West India Dock.

Waved on by supporters from the bridge, the boats — including privately owned narrowboats and commercial working boats — will lay off the Palace of Westminster for around 10 minutes and collectively sound their horns to draw the attention of Parliament and the general public to the need to safeguard the future of Britain’s inland waterways.

This campaign cruise is one of the activities being organised by the self-professed action group, a “broad and growing coalition of organisations and individuals that are all united in wanting to see adequate investment to maintain Britain’s network of canals and rivers for future generations to enjoy”.

The campaign cruise aims to raise the profile of the current public petition calling on Britain’s Prime Minister to acknowledge the many social, economic and environmental benefits of the inland waterways and give his assurance that the government will intervene where necessary to ensure our rivers and canals remain open, safe and accessible for all.

Sir Michael Fabricant MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways said: “Our canals and rivers along with their towpaths and riverside walks are valued and supported by millions of people across the country. Through many millions of hours of volunteer effort our inland waterways have been restored and protected.

“The flotilla past the Palace of Westminster will remind Parliamentarians just how keen people are to see the waterways continue to thrive and remain at the heart of communities.”

To learn more about the campaign cruise, visit the Fund Britain's Waterways website.

Published in Inland Waterways

The RYA says it stands with more than 40 organisations representing users and supporters of Britain’s inland waterways in calling for the UK Government to increase its funding for their maintenance.

This week a long-term funding settlement for the Canal & River Trust from 2027 to 2037 was announced by Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thérèse Coffey.

But the trust says the £400m-plus package represents a 40 per cent reduction in its funding in real terms over the 10-year period.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Fund Britain’s Waterways—a new coalition of waterways stakeholders—says the UK Government is failing to respond at a time of unprecedented challenges caused by the climate emergency and high inflation.

And it is campaigning for national and local government to act now and protect the public benefit and natural capital of Britain’s inland waterways.

“The RYA is deeply concerned by the Secretary of State’s announcement this week as it represents a huge real-term reduction in the already under-invested in canal and river network,” said RYA director of external affairs Mel Hide.

“These waterways belong to us all and are a valued part of our heritage. This reduction and the inevitable decline in the condition of the network could mean a substantial risk to the freedom of navigation and the vital blue spaces and their biodiversity that benefit millions of people.”

Published in Inland Waterways

Britain’s network of canals and navigable rivers is deteriorating because of inadequate funding, argues a new coalition of inland waterways organisations.

Fund Britain’s Waterways says the UK Government is failing to respond at a time of unprecedented challenges caused by the climate emergency and high inflation.

And it is campaigning for national and local government to act now and protect the public benefit and natural capital of Britain’s inland waterways.

Management of Britain’s 5,000 miles of navigable inland waterways is fragmented. The Canal & River Trust (CRT) has the greatest responsibility, covering 2,000 miles, with a fixed Government grant of £52.6m per year until 2027. Defra was expected to confirm funding for 2028 onwards in July 2022 but has not yet made an announcement.

Other waterways face similar problems, the coalition says. The Environment Agency is operating with £22m per year, one third of its identified requirement, and Scottish Canals has over £70m of maintenance work outstanding.

Fund Britain’s Waterways says the consequences of failing to maintain waterway infrastructure are illustrated by the evacuation of 1,500 local residents in case the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir collapsed in 2019.

It adds that the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of Britain’s inland waterways as people sought blue and green spaces to help recover. This was acknowledged in Defra’s own Environmental Improvement Plan, providing levelling up, economic, environmental, health and wellbeing benefits.

The combined annual economic and social value of CRT waterways alone has been quantified as £6.1bn, including cost savings of £1.1bn for the NHS from active use of the waterways and towpaths, the coalition says.

Yet despite this, the UK Government appears intent on significantly reducing its funding for the waterways, says Les Etheridge, chair of the FBW steering group and national chair of the Inland Waterways Association.

“Government needs to recognise that saying they value the inland waterways is not enough to prevent their decline,” he said. “Whilst we in FBW understand the financial pressures that everyone faces, the financial cuts are too deep, and adequate public funding needs to be allocated to maintain these national assets.

“FBW will be taking action starting with a campaign cruise in Birmingham over the weekend of 12-13 August 2023.”

For more on Fund Britain’s Waterways, visit www.fundbritainswaterways.org.uk.

Published in Inland Waterways

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