Supplementary memorandum by The Association
of Waterways Cruising Clubs (IW 39A)
1. There has been much discussion in the
past on the need for an overarching body to plan, regulate and
conserve the inland waterways of the UK. In this paper, the Association
of Waterways Cruising Clubs reviews the background and current
need for such an organisation. In summary, we believe that the
easiest way forward is to enhance what already exists and to promote
IWAAC into the wider role, covering all aspects of the multifunctional
use of the waterways and their development. We seek to provide
further evidence to the Select Committee, which they may find
helpful in determining a route to enact the exciting prospects
forecast by the Deputy Prime Minister.
2. The aim of this paper is to provide the
Select Committee enquiry with an additional evidence on the particular
subject of an overarching body. We seek to prove that IWAAC is
in itself an undervalued asset and should be considered for a
wider strategic role within the organisation and management of
the inland waterways.
3. The Association of Waterways Cruising
Clubs, in response to the Department of the Environment consultation
request, put forward the view in 1995 that a National Navigation
Authority would be useful in promoting the multifunctional leisure
use of the inland waterways. Much discussion has taken place since
then on the organisation of the waterways involving all the other
user groups. The IWAAC report to Government describing the inland
waterways as an undervalued asset has been widely accepted and
has culminated in the overall thrust of the daughter transport
White Paper, Waterways For Tomorrow. The Deputy Prime Minister
in his Foreword to the White Paper said,
"We recognise their heritage value needs
conserving. But waterways are not a museum. Innovation uses such
as water transfer and telecommunications are being developed.
The waterways contribute to the renaissance of our inner cities;
they enhance residential developments; they offer important environmental
and educational benefits; and they have continuing scope for transporting
freight. Taken together with the ever-growing leisure market our
waterways are a sustainable resource that can flourish. The prospects
4. The AWCC recognise that the White Paper,
and all that has led up to it, is a major step forward in Government
policy and would fully support the implementation of the general
principals that it contains. We confirmed our agreement in written
evidence to the Select Committee for the Environment, Transport
and Regional Affairs enquiry into the inland waterways. In particular,
we supported the view in Chapter Eight of the White Paper that
the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities (AINA) had a
"positive and developing role". However, we now believe
that this role has limitations, which would restrict the strategic
planning and advisory role that they could assume. This view is
based on the statements made by the Chairman of AINA at the Parliamentary
Waterways Group (PWG) meeting at Westminster on 24 October 2000
and at the second sitting of the Select Committee on 15 November
2000, where he described AINA as a trade association. He specifically
excluded AINA from the strategic role. We have consequently advised
the Chairman of the PWG that AINA can be viewed only as a professional
interest group and that the waterways community must look elsewhere
for its main strategic guidance. This was reflected in our oral
evidence to the Select Committee.
5. We fully supported the developing role
of IWAAC in our evidence to the Select Committee and suggested
that this role could be further expanded. The rest of this paper
is devoted to an expansion of what the role should encompass and
how it can be achieved.
6. The role of IWAAC may be divided into
two parts. The statutory role provided for in legislation since
1968 and an extended remit sanctioned by recent Waterways Ministers.
7. Statutory Role. IWAAC was created
by the Transport Act 1968. The Council's primary role is to provide
advice to British Waterways (BW) and Ministers on amenity and
recreation. Its functions are set out mainly in section 110(2)
of the Transport Act 1968. Broadly they are:
To advise BW and Ministers on proposals
to add to or reduce the cruising waterways;
To make recommendations on matters:
Affecting the use or development
of the cruising waterways for amenity or recreational purposes;
Concerning the provision of services
and facilities for amenity or recreational purposes on commercial
and cruising waterways.
8. Other statutory functions include provision
for the Council to be consulted on proposed orders:
Under Schedule 13 to the Transport
Act 1968 for changing the status or maintenance obligations of
Under Schedule 1 to the British Waterways
Act 1983 for additions to BW's undertaking; and
Under regulations under the Transport
and Works Act 1992 for works on BW waterways.
Under Schedule 2 of the British Waterways
Responsibility for operating and
planning the operation of the network, both in the long and short
term, currently rests with the British Waterways Board, within
the limits of the policies and approvals set by Government.
9. The Council's Extended Remit. The
main and recent request from Ministers is that IWAAC should follow-up,
in light of response from BW and Government, ideas in the report
"Britain's Inland Waterways: An Undervalued Asset"
that require further development. Other aspects of the remit
focus on issues connected with amenity
and recreation on BW's navigations. This will include advice on:
broadening the customer base;
the role of waterways in rural
and urban regeneration;
environmental protection, conservation,
heritage and education; and
the balance between different
uses and benefits of the waterways;
work as a statutory consultee on
proposals affecting the BW network;
BW to regard IWAAC as a resource
of expertise on which to draw. BW should involve IWAAC in its
activities, consult it on decisions and policy at early formative
stages and use it as a sounding board for the Board's proposals;
the Department will seek to involve
IWAAC in the development of BW policy on amenity of waterway restoration
schemes in the UK.
10. Council's Working Methods and Procedures.
There are 5-6 council meetings a year, usually in London.
Issues will arise that require specialist consideration. In these
circumstances the Chairman will decide whether to delegate consideration
to a Council member who may have experience of the particular
subject, or hand it on to the Secretariat for report.
11. Time Input and Remuneration. Members
are unpaid but can claim from BW out of pocket expenses and allowances
for loss of remunerative time. In practice most members can expect
to spend less than one day a month on IWAAC business. An appointment
is generally for three years.
12. Comment. The above summary of
the role of IWAAC was provided by the DETR. The groundbreaking
IWAAC report, Britain's Inland Waterways: An Undervalued Asset,
and the Council's subsequent examination of waterways restoration
priorities were of course not limited to the BW network. Ministers
have increasingly asked for more comprehensive advice. The White
Paper, Waterways For Tomorrow, "invite(s) IWAAC to prepare
a good practice document with a view to it being published jointly
with DETR explaining the contribution that inland waterways can
make to regeneration and other projects, and highlighting examples
of good planning" (paragraph 6.73.) Hence, there is growing
acceptance of the need for overarching planning advice.
13. When the Water Space Amenity Commission
(WSAC) was founded in 1974, its role was to advise the Secretary
of State on matters relating to a national strategy and policy
for water relating to recreation and amenity. WSAC was also there
advise water authorities on the discharge
of their related functions;
to encourage and assist water authorities
in the preparation of plans and programmes relating to the discharge
of the functions set out in Section 24 of the 1973 Water Act;
it also included advice to Local
Authorities in respect of their planning powers for developments
on water and on waterside lands, together with planning advice
on recreational management.
14. Membership included representatives'
from the Countryside Commission; the English Tourist Board; the
Sports Council; the Association of Local Authorities and other
such bodies interested in the use of water and any land associated
with water for the purposes of recreation or in the enhancement
and preservation of amenity. The Chairman of IWAAC was quite naturally
a member of WSAC. Clearly, water privatisation and other structural
changes meant that successor bodies had to be considered and WSAC
foundered on the rocks. However, the concept of the formulation,
promotion and advice on the execution of a national policy for
water relating to recreation and amenity still holds true. It
is this point that Nigel Spearing (Associate Member and former
MP) made so effectively at the PWG on 24 October 2000. It is with
this aim in mind that we believe that IWAAC's brief from Government
needs to be enhanced.
15. An overarching strategic authority is
a public body that is necessarily divorced from the day to day
running of the given activity and the natural tensions that are
associated with operational affairs. It must have flexibility
and vision, provided by the expertise of its members, to set the
long-term objectives and planning requirements for the activity.
It may be appointed by Government, but will be free from the constraints
of a Government Department.
16. Who should not be The Body:
Why cannot BW do it? BW cannot
do it because their driving force is concerned with efficient
operations. They should not be deviated from or burdened by what
is a long-term activity, related to but not part of their day
to day activity. They should make a contribution, but should not
be The Body.
Why cannot DETR do it? DETR
should not do it because their bread and butter is policy development
and implementation. Their driving force is political and it will
always be short-term. Strategic planning advice is required for
good policy development but it is better produced by an independent
Why cannot AINA do it? AINA
cannot do it because they are a Trade Association, as discussed
17. There is a general expectation that
the inland waterways of the UK will remain a public asset, regardless
of the arrangements made for their efficient operation. An overarching
body, even if it did not hold the physical assets, could easily
fulfil the role of regulator, conserver and strategic planneran
honest broker in public eyes. The message from the past, which
is echoed in the current White Paper is that the planning system
in the UK needs to be supplemented if the undervalued asset contained
within the waterways is to be released and made available in a
reasonable timeframe. What else is required to complete an overarching
mandate? The 10 functions that need to be conducted by The
Body are proposed as follows:
The Body must be able to hear
all views and then recommend to the DETR the Planning Policy Guidance
papers that are needed to cover the broader issues of waterways
in the context of their place in the wider community. Such PPG's
would supplement and enhance the existing range of PPG's.
The Body needs to collect,
collate and disseminate knowledge of benchmark standards and ultimately
to broker National Standards, which could be implemented in terms
of national policy through DETR.
There is a need to resolve the tensions
that exist within and between the large organisations covering
the operation of the inland waterways. The Body could ensure
that the tensions are understood and positive solutions recommended.
There is a need to prevent "reinventing
the wheel". The Body could act as a clearing house
to ensure that especially scarce and development funds are put
to the best use and avoid duplication. Joint commissioning of
research with The Body responsible for co-ordination is
a clear option here.
There needs to be an "open"
data resource bank, to enable The Body to draw on the widest
knowledge base to assist in its debate.
There is a need to improve networking
systems within all waterway operators to ensure that even the
slowest and smallest participants can be kept up to speed.
Hence, The Body needs to provide
first class, impartial, rigorous advice to government and all
operators of inland waterways.
The membership of The Body would
need to embrace the full range of waterway interests, including
water resources, water space management, wild life and all aspects
of the natural environment and heritage.
Above all, there is a need to create
the means by which the wide diversity of interests can be understood
with the view to identifying common ground. A dialogue between
all players can sometimes resolve deep divides.
Hence, overall there is a need to
create a means by which the vision of the future development,
maintenance and improvement of all aspects of our inland waterways
(Canals, Rivers and Lakes) can be seen as a comprehensive national
asset and be viewed accordingly.
18. There has been much discussion over
many years on a suitable scheme to promote good and workable standards
for boat safety. BW has struggled manfully with the scheme in
a leadership role, but it is still unsatisfactory. A high level
review has been put in place by the Waterways Minister. Representatives
of BW and the EA team lead the review team. IWAAC has supplied
two independent members and the Association of Waterways Cruising
Clubs has supplied the technical observer. If we could all have
our time again, it is now quite clear that an overarching body,
as described above, could have set the ground rules by generating
workable standards with national and international standards authorities.
It would have saved an enormous amount of time, money and frustration
and is just one example of how points two and three above could
have a practical significance.
Can IWAAC provide the solution?
19. IWAAC is the natural precursor of the
proposed overarching body because it has developed the ability
to call upon and use a wide diversity of relevant expertise that
has proven useful to Ministers, the Department and the waterways
community as a whole. It is seen to be independent and impartial,
mainly because of the quality and diversity of its membership.
It can easily and quickly assume an extended role to seek information
from an even wider range of specific interest bodies, including
AINA, and to generate the wide variety of strategic planning and
other guidance data needed for an effective forward plan. It already
fits the definition given in paragraph 15 above.
20. We believe the IWAAC should be directed
by Ministers to define a process for evolution and we would recommend
a phased approach with appropriate endorsement at each stage.
The implementation plan should include the following points:
Phase 1. IWAAC should be given a
free hand to put in place the good planning guidance as suggested
in the White Paper (paragraph 6.73). They should also consider
the extent to which new waterways specific PPG's would be beneficial.
The membership should be expanded immediately to allow a wide-ranging
voice of opinion and expertise so that they may report quickly
on this planning guidance.
Phase 2. IWAAC should then be given
a remit to examine and report in full on all the aspects of the
legal framework that need changing, including in particular their
own status established in the now outdated 1968 Act. They should
specifically consider whether IWAAC should evolve into the strategic
body, say, along the lines of the former WSAC model, or whether
a completely different body is needed. The result of Phase 1 should
naturally be part of their consideration with firm recommendations
for new PPG's.
Phase 3. Enact the legislation and
form The Body. We would propose a two to three year timescale
for complete implementation.
21. We have attended all the public hearings
of the Select Committee and it is quite clear to us from the discussion
and evidence presented that BW cannot be all things to all men
and do them all with superb excellence. As a body, BW has shown
their vision and commitment to the waterways through the particular
act of creating The Waterways Trust, but it also shows most vividly
the need to create the right body for the right job. The Trust
will do what BW cannot. The specific role of BW should be to run
a world class navigation operation and leisure provider. This
they will be able to do if they are given help with strategic
planning. Strategic planning in the waterways context has to be
improved if the vision of the undervalued asset is ever to be
released. Now is the time to make rapid progress in achieving
this vision. The role of IWAAC is key to the process and the evolution
of an overarching body in the style of the WSAC model would help
greatly with achievement of this vision. There is an opportunity
at hand now, to build our particular New Jerusalem in England's
green and pleasant landbased very much on waterways in
town and country alike.
22. In summary, the Association of Waterways
Cruising Clubs recommends that:
An overarching body is necessary
and should be formed as soon as possible.
It should be based loosely on the
model of the former WSAC.
IWAAC should be given responsibility
for defining the process of implementation.
We commend our solution to the Select Committee
and to the Secretary of State.
I would like to acknowledge with many thanks
the help and advice give in the writing this paper by Dr Roger
Squires. Also, to members of the National Executive Committee
of the AWCC. I must also thank members of staff of IWAAC, DETR
and IWA for their complete co-operation in supplying detailed
David Pearce MSc MPhil CEng MIEE RCNC
Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs, Southampton