Memorandum by The Yacht Brokers, Designers
and Surveyors Association (IW 36)
THE POTENTIAL OF THE INLAND WATERWAYS
The YBDSA is the only professional body for
Yacht Brokers, Designers and Surveyors of recreational craft in
the UK. Members are only accepted into membership after an examination
and interview, for surveyors and designers, and after vetting
for all categories. Members are also required to maintain their
levels of technical knowledge and expertise by achieving Continuing
Professional Development (CPD) points. Additionally, all members
must have Professional Indemnity Insurance.
Many of our members are involved with the inland
waterways in various capacitiessecond-hand boat sales;
surveysfor the Boat Safety Scheme, for insurance purposes
and for clients personally (private and commercial)and
in design aspects for new boats or up-grading, renewing, etc.
There is a special branch of the YBDSA for inland waterwaysthe
Inland Waterways Group. This group works closely with bodies such
as British Waterways, the Environment Agency and the RYA. We also
have membership of the Parliamentary Waterways Group.
Our members are therefore directly involved
with inland waterways boaters on a daily basis, as well as the
marina and boatyard personnel. Clearly, therefore, the health
of these waterways has a direct impact on their livelihoods.
The potential of the waterways is critically
linked to all aspects working togetherif the waterways
are full of rubbish and run through derelict areas they are not
pleasant to navigatewith the obvious effect on leisure
and tourism. If they are silted up, traffic cannot pass through,
particularly large commercial freight vessels. It is therefore
an implicit duty upon us all to co-operate for the benefit of
The regeneration of many areas of the waterways
has been well documented and inland boating is an increasingly
popular pastime. Restoration projects are queued up, waiting for
agreement to go ahead and for grants. The Government provides
some funding to the waterways and the waterways operators, particularly
British Waterways and the Environment Agency raise funds through
licences, moorings, etc.
Unlike other modes of transport the waterways
have multiple uses, being enjoyed by a wide variety of different
userswalkers (with and without dogs), horse riders, cyclists,
fishermen, bird watchers, etc, as well as boaters (pleasure and
commercial), freight movement and water transfer. Further they
provide important habitats for flora and fauna. All of these cohabit
largely without undue friction and provide employment and enjoyment
for a large section of the community.
Many of these users do not contribute financially
to the maintenance of the waterways, whilst benefiting from their
upkeep, and we would urge DETR to look at wider means of financial
support than just the boaters (pleasure and commercial) and the
boatyards and marinas and water transfer operations. We would
urge central Government funding for an integrated transport network
which recognised the importance of the waterways as part of our
However, if we are to attempt to return to some
of the former strength of the commercial use of these waterways,
we still have a long way to go.
The Integrated Transport Plan looked at all
means of transport, notably with a view to reducing the number
of vehicles on our roads. The waterways were originally created
with the very purpose of moving freight around the country, and
it is only with the introduction of the faster options of road
and rail that this has fallen away. The benefits of using water
to transport large, heavy cargoes are the lessening of pollution
from the lorries or diesel trains that would otherwise move it;
that it lessens lorry journeys on the road infrastructurewater
does not have to be re-surfaced like motorways; and less congestion
on the roads.
An appreciation of the benefits of water-borne
freight is growing and our surveyors are being asked to undertake
an increasing number of surveys with the intention of refurbishment
of commercial vessels which had largely fallen into disrepair.
A major problem at present is the dwindling pool of boats available
for such refurbishmentoperators are even looking to the
continent trying to find suitable vessels. We would like to see
DETR build on the support they are already giving the waterborne
freight industry, which is a welcome development, by offering
grants or other incentives to commercial operators for such refurbishment.
It is a very expensive operation, but with some support those
vessels which would otherwise have to be written-off as too derelict
to bring back to life due to cost, could be given a new lease
of life. This is an urgent matter, as each year passing means
that such vessels are becoming less able to be re-vitalised. Our
surveyors are keen to work with operators to offer their expertise
and advice. Encouragement of the commercial freight industry by
DETR would be most welcome if some of the Integrated Transport
budget was targeted to identifying and refurbishing derelict vessels
to cope with the increasing demand for this means of carriage.
Our broker members on the inland waterways are
dependent upon a well-maintained waterways infrastructure to sell
boatsboth pleasure and commercial. The regeneration of
the waterways in many parts of the country has seen a growth in
boating for pleasure. However, this needs to be supported by the
level of moorings and boatyards available to service them. DETR
support for new marina and boatyard projects is paramount if we
are to maintain the impetus of development and regeneration. Environmental
considerations are often given priority but it is not generally
the case that boatyards or other boating operations cause loss
of amenity for wildlife, and certainly boaters gain a great deal
of pleasure from the wildlife around them whilst they are boating.
The dredging of the waterway by boat movement is largely advantageous
for both flora and fauna. The provision of designated sites means
that boaters are less likely to moor up in sensitive areasit
is clearly more comfortable to go somewhere where there are facilities
provided, and with access to local shops and amenities.
We are pleased to have this opportunity to make
representations to the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs
Committee and hope that we may be able to assist the Committee
in its inquiry into the Potential of the Inland Waterways.
28 September 2000