Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Trent Boating Association (IW 65)


  The Trent Boating Association ("TBA") represents more than 2,500 private pleasure boat owners based on and around the River Trent and its associated canals and waterways. Each year many of our members extend their boating to the estuaries and beyond. It isn't unusual for them to take their boats to the Fens, to the Thames (EA waters), to the Norfolk Broads and beyond. In the waterways debate the TBA's expertise and interests turn predominantly around:

    —  policies and mechanisms to ensure adequate funding for the stabilisation and development of the inland waterways; and

    —  the structure of ownership of waterways, roles of responsibilities of the various agencies, etc.

  In past years the TBA has held the policy of recommending that all providers, but in particular British Waterways ("BW") and Environment Agency ("EA"), keep within their existing bounds. This was based o the TBA's belief that the resultant competition would be good for the boater. In short we feared the consequences of a monopoly.

  However, the performance, as navigation authorities; between BW and EA on their respective navigations in recent years has become so markedly different that the TBA wishes to recommend that BW be permitted/encouraged to assume responsibility for the whole of the UK's inland waterways navigations.

  Our reasons for this recommendation are based on our detailed knowledge of the performances in this particular field by the two authorities. There will always be differences between BW and the TBA; matters on which we feel BW "could do better". However, BW's core business is the maintenance and supervision of their waterways—and this shows. The standard of maintenance and of facilities provided by BW on their waterways is so very much ahead of EA's attempts.

  On matters of flood defence and environmental matters the position is less clear. EA appear to have the lead here in "hands on" experience but this makes their continual failures—the spring floods on the Fens in early 2000 for example—more difficult to understand. In the matter of flood defences etc the TBA would prefer simply to give evidence and to let others make the recommendations.

  The TBA trusts that you will allow this late and necessarily hurried submission to be put before the inquiry.

Brian Winterbottom


7 October 2000

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