Memorandum by The Inland Waterways Association
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is a
registered charity, founded in 1946, which advocates the conservation,
use, maintenance, restoration and development of the inland waterways
for public benefit. IWA has about 17,000 members whose interests
include boating, towing path walking, industrial archaeology,
nature conservation and many other activities associated with
the inland waterways. This memorandum is made on behalf of the
Council of the Association and is submitted from the Association's
Inland waterways offer a wide variety of recreational
activities, including boating, walking and jogging on towing paths,
angling, canoeing, gentle recreational cycling and opportunities
to study wildlife and built heritage. It is estimated that 165
million leisure visits are made each year to British Waterways'
canals and rivers alone.
The inland waterways network is over 2000 miles long and is continually
being extended through waterway restoration: improved recreational
opportunities are just one of the many benefits of such restoration.
In its Waterways for Tomorrow document1,
the Government recognised the importance of inland waterways and
undertook to improve planning guidance on them when revising and
updating relevant PPGs. However, IWA feels that this has not been
achieved in the case of the draft PPG 17, which lacks detail and
makes little reference to water-related recreation. In particular,
it does not recognise the need to protect inland waterways from
inappropriate new development, which often adversely affects recreation,
and fails to address potential conflicts between recreational
uses of waterway towing paths.
It is vital that inland waterways are accounted
for in the planning system at all levels. However, the chapter
of the draft PPG 17 on the planning framework makes no reference
to inland waterways. Many inland waterways cross administrative
boundaries, so they must be addressed in Regional Planning Guidance.
They must also be recognised in Structure and Local Plans, as
they have an important role in recreation and improving access
to both rural and urban areas. Moreover, their restoration can
bring improved recreational opportunities and access as well as
regeneration and many other benefits to local areas.
Navigations have special needs: boatyards, moorings
and other dedicated facilities must be accessible from the waterway,
whereas most other developments do not suffer this constraint.
For this reason, waterway facilities should be permitted where
developments unrelated to the waterway might not be permitted.
New development which would prejudice the continuance of existing
waterway facilities and activities should not be allowed. The
draft PPG 17 fails to address the threats to inland waterways
and their related recreational activities from development pressuresthis
must be addressed in the revised PPG.
IWA is pleased that canal towing paths are mentioned
in the draft PPG 17, as they are important for many types of recreation
and provide access and green links between towns and the countryside.
However, the draft did not address the potential for conflict
between different recreational uses of towing paths, such as between
walking and cycling. It is important that these are addressed
by PPG 17. A copy of IWA's Towing Path Policy
is enclosed as an appendix to this Memorandum. The revised PPG
17 should also encourage the restoration of derelict waterways
and their towing paths, which would improve recreational opportunities
as well as providing valuable wildlife corridors and encouraging
In summary, the draft PPG 17 document fails
to provide adequate planning guidance on inland waterways. It
should be revised in accordance with the promises made by the
Government in the Waterways for Tomorrow document1 to give
due consideration to the recreational potential of inland waterways
and the need to protect them from inappropriate developments.
1 Waterways for Tomorrow: Department of the
Environment, Transport and the Regions: June 2000. Back
Towing Path Policy: Inland Waterways Association: May