Memorandum by Sadie Dean (IW 06)
THE POTENTIAL OF INLAND WATERWAYS
I wish these comments to be expressed at the
The role of Inland Waterways in respect of:
Urban and rural regeneration
Where there has been city centre improvements,
such as in Birmingham, many of the old buildings have been completely
replaced. This has certainly added much to the city centre but
a similar area in Manchester where many more of the old structures
have been preserved and adapted for modern use the result there
is for more attractive.
In the first example the buildings are of the
sort that can be seen anywhere with the waterway just adding to
the attraction, in the second example the whole of the waterways
combined with the old buildings create a unique area and the historic
interest and attraction is retained.
There are many inner city areas where new life
is returning to the canals and more thought needs to be given
before old buildings are destroyed.
There are also many towns where thoughtful use
and preservation of old structures in co-ordination with the regeneration
of the canals will present the uniqueness of our heritage.
In rural areas the regeneration should be linked
with the use of the waterway for navigation. The movement of craft
keeps them alive, especially on the canals where otherwise the
water becomes stagnant and clogged with weed or/and litter. Frequent
use and the presence of boaters offers free supervision and cuts
down vandalism to plants, buildings and wildlife.
Leisure, recreation, tourism and the industrial
The industrial heritage of the waterways is
linked to boats and carrying. Although this has ceased over much
of the system, there are many historic boats and buildings still
in existence, and it is these that are attractive, both for those
involved with them and for visitors. The boats are not all in
museums or stored up.
Visitors to the waterways whether tourists,
walkers, casual passers by or those on boating trips or holidays,
really get great pleasure from seeing historic boats on the waterways.
The speed of travel enables exchange of information, interest
is shown and questions answered.
This is a unique feature of our waterways and
the nation's heritage. Visitors are attracted by it.
It cannot exist without maintenance of waterway
standards and the retaining of the old buildings.
The environment and the enhancement of wildlife
The waterways should be kept free of pollution
Water Transfer, drainage and telecommunications
To use canals that were not designed for water
transfer schemes to move water about would completely destroy
them and the heritage that needs to be preserved. The beds would
be scoured, gradients would have to be introduced and boat speeds
increased to combat the flow introduced. Land and later road drainage
is an historic use of the canals though it is hoped that lessons
have been learned from the mess caused, and now being put right,
because of the drainage from the M5.
Waterways that carry freight at present can
be upgraded and the volume of traffic increased.
As long ago as 1948 it was impossible to carry
a full load along many canals because of poor standards of maintenance.
As recently as two months ago we experienced
great difficulty in bringing three quarters of a load to Birmingham,
because of blockages caused by rubbish allowed to accumulate over
the years at certain known points. Pairs of boats cannot carry
in the traditional manner along some wide canals, the Shropshire
Union Nantwich to Chester for example, because of blockages behind
the lock gates preventing both gates from being fully opened.
To enable freight to be carried commercially:
Suppliers and destinations must
be able to load and unload directly onto the boats.
The waterway must be correctly
Inexperienced persons slowing
down lock use cannot hold up the transport of goods.
The water is not frozen.
Any feasibility study on commercial carrying
on canals would only create jobs for those doing the study and
those generating the paperwork.
Commercial carrying can be shown on the canals
by those willing to sponsor it. It is very popular and attracts
The extent to which the objectives are complimentary
or whether a principal use should be given priority.
The waterways have changed greatly in the last
200 years (6.62 says otherwise). The worst dirt and pollution
from factories etc discharging into them has been stopped. Now
the rubbish comes more from individuals, litter and the obstructions
from weed growth.
There is no doubt that boat movement keeps canals
"alive" and the presence of boaters reduces the incidence
of vandalism and tipping.
There is no conflict between boating and biodiversity.
Obviously recreational use of the towpath has
increased over the last 20 years, (6.4 Waterways for Tomorrow)
as towpaths were private property and the public had no right
of access and was forbidden to trespass. Now they seem to be given
the right to roam.
Much tipping goes on into the canals both deliberate
rubbish disposal and casual litter dropping from fishermen and
walkers, this affects all users.
Most users of the waterways, boaters, anglers
and walkers etc are in no conflict.
Where towpaths have been turned into cycle ways,
speeding is a great problem and source of danger.
The Waterways for Tomorrow document does not contain
adequate policies because
Too much of the heritage is being sold off and
Private sector investment too often loses sight
of what needs to be retained.
Roads are being built over and alongside the
waterways and ruining the environment.
Roads are being built over sections of canals
that are being restored.
Urban regeneration in towns is being done on
a huge scale rather than attention being given to details and
small areas of local excellence.
Not all waterway users are being charged and
the burden is falling heavily on the few.
The roles and responsibilities of the agencies
involved in the protection and maintenance of the waterways
The waterways are not being protected from the
encroachment of business enterprises.
Far too many linear moorings are being sold,
preventing visitors from stopping at interesting places.
Commercial activities are frequently not in
keeping with the environment.
The waterways of this country will not survive
if turned into a theme park.
The great value of this heritage is being eroded
and lost because those in control are losing the vision of what
the historic value is.
The unique potential of this heritage is becoming
swamped by big business.
The statutory duty of the authorities to maintain
navigation on the waterways has become very low on the list of
Too much of the work is now contracted out to
those with no knowledge or interest in the waterways.
Those painting locks and bridges paint loose
and dangerous safety barriers because they are only employed to
Those cutting the grass carve into the bottom
of the hedgerows where the wildlife would live. They leave dangerous
growth on the towpath edge to cause hazards to users, allow trees
to develop to damage the towpath walls. This also obscures the
canal walls so signs of deterioration cannot be spotted early
These are just a few examples of an ineffective
system that is short sighted, perhaps introduced to save money,
which it doesn't, as ongoing maintenance is usually cheaper.
Waterway operatives used to take a pride in
"their section". Now a few are forced to carry out tasks
such as putting up signs at a lock that has leaking walls, rubbish
stopping proper operation of the gates and trees overhanging the
navigation channel at a dangerous height. Morale is low.
What users and visitors want to see is a working
waterway, with the history preserved and active evidence of it.
This along with a natural unpolluted environment where plants
and wildlife can also be enjoyed.
More money should be spent on encouraging the
use of historic craft and the restoration of related industrial
More derelict waterways should be restored.
The watercourses should be kept clean and unpolluted,
under these conditions wildlife will flourish.