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Wednesday 7 September

Waterways minister announces figures for rise in London-area boats

BW’s official figures for the increase in the number of boats on the central and east London waterways were given out by waterways minister Richard Benyon on September 5th in answer to a parliamentary question from Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali. 

The MP had asked “how many boats with (a) a home mooring licence and (b) a continuous cruising licence have moored on average in (i) the Rivers Lea and Stort and (ii) the Regent's Canal in the last five years.”  

In his reply, Richard Benyon gave figures only for the four years 2007–2010. 

He said BW’s annual licence check surveys showed a 24% increase in five years of boats officially moored on the Lee & Stort (from 571 to 712), and 125% in the number of continuous cruisers (from 107 to 241). 

The shorter, more urban, Regent’s Canal saw a modest 3% rise in officially moored boats (from 295 to 304) over the five years to 2011, but a marked rise of 240% in continuous cruisers (from 33 to 112 boats). 

Both areas showed a doubling of figures for ‘other’ types of boat, including those visiting from non-BW waters (e.g. the Thames) and those who had no mooring declaration, although the total numbers of this type were smaller.

Andrew Denny  | 12.56pm


Today's news from the web

  • All aboard for a jaunt around Birmingham dailymail.co.uk

    Could there be a better parable of modern Britain? Approaching Birmingham at 3mph in a car and we'd be fidgeting, tooting our horns and snarling at other drivers. Approaching it at 3mph by canal - on a sleek, green 66ft narrowboat called Herring Gull - and there is no such stress. All is serenity as we glide along the Birmingham and Worcester Canal, past pubs and churches, fields of sheep, neat suburban gardens, joggers, cyclists and parents pushing buggies along the towpath. It's Middle England in miniature....


Friday 2 September

Today's news from the web

  • Plaque will pay tribute to Regent's Canal's battling 'Boadicea', Crystal Hale islingtontribune.com

    She was described as “Islington’s Boad­icea”, a formidable campaigner who fought a long and hard battle against British Water­ways when it wanted to fill in the canal at the much-loved City Road Basin. Crystal Hale, who died in 1999, aged 83, and who cham­pioned the cause of the Regent’s Canal in the 1960s, is to be finally honoured with a plaque at the 25th Angel Festival on Sunday. ...

  • Bangladeshi boatmen set to do battle oxfordtimes.co.uk

    Thames visitors and residents will be able to see a Bangladeshi sporting spectacle on Sunday. The Nowka Bais – which translates as boat race – will feature 18 teams from across the country going head-to-head in a 400m dash. ...


Thursday 1 September

Wey & Arun Trust builds new visitor centre at Loxwood

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust has begun building a new visitor centre beside the canal at its Loxwood base. 

The new centre will provide information about the whole canal restoration project, the history of the Wey & Arun Canal and local information about the village. The timber building will have a curved ‘green roof’, which will be planted as a wild flower meadow.

“A dedicated amenity such as this has been long awaited and has been a long time in preparation,” said the Trust's chairman Sally Schupke. 

“For years we have had to make do with a temporary shed attached to the Onslow Arms pub. The number of visitors to the area has increased significantly and better facilities are needed to meet their needs and also those of the volunteer staff."

The prefabricated structure is being made by by Fordingbridge a specialist in environmentally sensitive and sustainable buildings, and the project is due to be finished in time for Christmas.

Andrew Denny  | 3.40pm


Today's news from the web

  • Ducks' house is 'danger for kids' stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk

    A wooden duck house built by a householder and installed on the canal in Ebley is to be removed after Stroud District Council said it posed a safety risk to children and would obstruct boats. Grandfather John Brum, 64, spent three months building the 6ft by 4ft pine structure which can be seen floating on the waterway in front of his house in Home Orchard. He did not think it would be a problem as the canal is not yet open to boats. Within days, it had attracted moorhens but it also came to the notice of SDC, which has its headquarters just yards away at Ebley Mill....

  • New Droitwich Waterways Trust launches with fundraiser droitwichadvertiser.co.uk

    A new trust set up to promote and protect the town’s newly restored canal network is about to launch its autumn fundraising season. The Droitwich Waterways Trust - formerly Droitwich Canals Trust - will start the programme of events with a tea and scones fundraising event at St Richards House, Victoria Square, from 2 to 4pm on Saturday, September 3. All proceeds will go to the training of volunteers to crew the Pamela May charity trip boat, which is based in Vines Park....

  • BBC News - Inverness man's dialysis canoe trip on Caledonian Canal bbc.co.uk

    A kidney patient is to highlight the freedom that a new portable dialysis machine can give by canoeing the Caledonian Canal over six days. Former oil worker Martin MacRae, from Inverness, will camp along the route from Fort William to Inverness. He will use one of only two portable machines available through the NHS in Scotland. They are smaller than standard hospital dialysis machines....


Wednesday 31 August

Today's news from the web

  • University of Birmingham canal boat completes three years of fuel-cell operation marinelog.com

    The U.K.'s University of Birmingham has been operating a canal boat with a fuel cell drive for three years on Britain's 3,500 km long canal system. Last year the boat made its longest voyage to date, of four days duration and 105 km length, negotiating no less than 58 locks....

  • Back from the brink – Environment Agency reveals the ten most improved rivers environment-agency.gov.uk

    The Environment Agency has released its list of the "Top Ten most improved rivers". A river that once ran black with coal is now an international match fishing destination. Another so polluted that it was described as ‘an affront to a civilised society’ is now a home for salmon, otters and water voles. And a London river that was officially declared a sewer in the 1960s has become one of the best urban fisheries in the country....

  • Government to encourage more residential moorings communities.gov.uk

    For marinas and boaters, getting official ‘residential’ status for new moorings on the waterways could become a lot easier, following a government decision.

    In a new document, "More powers for communities to choose boats on water alongside bricks and mortar", Housing and Local Government minister Grant Shapps has said councils who grant planning permission for new residential moorings will now qualify for the government’s New Homes Bonus scheme.  

    Introduced earlier this year, the New Homes Bonus is a promise that when local authorities allow planning permission for new homes, the extra council tax raised from those homes will be matched with an equal grant to the council from central government.  

    For a long time, marinas have found it hard to get planning permission on residential moorings. Typically, official residential status might be granted only to a select few boats, often reserved for staff or on-site wardens.  

    Local authorities have often been wary of granting official residential status to moorings, partly because it brings in its wake other issues, such as environmental concerns or creates a new group of local residents who might burden the council with demands for extra services. 

    The minister says that by extending the New Homes scheme to residential moorings, councils will have an incentive to make it easier to accommodate liveaboard boaters.  

    However, many boaters who already occupy moorings on a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ basis will see a drawback: With official residential status will likely come a demand for council tax - something that informal non-residential moorings can often avoid - although non-residential moorings are subject to VAT. 

    In his announcement Grant Shapps said: "Landlords, councils and communities now all have a clear incentive to get more mooring sites in their areas. Around 15,000 people live on our waterways and many more would like to do so. The government's commitment to localism could be an opportunity for living on boats to be given a new lease of life."

    The announcement on residential moorings came the weekend before the minister announced that land 'twice the size of Leicester' was to be 'released' by the government to help tackle the shortage of housing across the UK.  

    A new report from the National Housing Federation has said that home ownership in England had slumped to its lowest level since the mid-1980s.
    ...

  • Designs revealed in canalside Brentford Lock development architectsjournal.co.uk

    Designs have been revealed by the three teams competing to design a new, mixed-use waterside scheme in Brentford Lock, west London The Brentford Lock West competition has been organised by ISIS Waterside Regeneration for the 6.34 hectares plot - a largely vacant former industrial estate next to the Grand Union Canal. Outline planning permission for the area was secured back in March, based on the masterplan drawn up by Swedish urban designers Tovatt, Klas Tham and Urbed. The architects were then asked to draw up plans for the first phase of the development which will feature around 150 homes and 550m² of office space....

  • BW land adjacent to Battyeford Sporting Club up for auction examiner.co.uk

    Land next to a community sports club has gone up for auction – raising concerns about emergency access to the playing fields. British Waterways has put an acre of land up for sale next to Battyeford Sporting Club’s playing fields on Huddersfield Road in Mirfield. The auction is on September 15 at Elland Road in Leeds and the guide price is £15,000 to £20,000. A gate leading onto the land for sale is currently used for ambulance access in case of an accident on the playing fields....

  • Canal 'Heritage Open Days' waterscape.com

    From 8-11 September, historic buildings and structures across the country will be welcoming visitors for free, as part of Heritage Open Days 2011. This is a series of events, co-ordinated by English Heritage, and designed to open up access to places that are either not usually open to the public, or else normally charge an entrance fee. Last year, more than 1 million people attended Heritage Open Days events....

  • A narrowboat escape ft.com

    Canal boating holidays have come out of the countryside into the centre of London. Think of a canal holiday and you think of ploughman’s lunch-fuelled bucolic puttering, of trim little lock-keepers’ cottages and humpback bridges. You probably don’t think of the Grand Union in west London, particularly if you’re me and punctuated your adolescence watching this neglected trans-urban waterway clog with the rusted trappings of antisocial behaviour....


Tuesday 30 August

BW abandons controversial Lee & Stort plans

British Waterways says it is stepping back from its radical charging proposals for managing overcrowding on the East London and the Lee & Stort Navigations. 

It what will be seen by some as a big concession, the organisation has announced it will “explore the potential for establishing a new facilitating body, such as a social enterprise, to help achieve a more sustainable model for residential boating on the Lee and Stort Navigations”.

The new proposals include a new type of ‘roving mooring permit’, allowing the continuous cruisers more freedom to choose where and when they moor, whilst still charging them extra.  The money from the permits would be ploughed back locally into extra facilities for these boaters. 

BW said it would also “set up a social enterprise encouraging a much greater element of local management through, for example, adoption of a code of conduct and opportunities for contributions to planning and operation of boater facilities”. 

As part of the move, BW has promised to employ more staff on this project, and to work closely with other interested parties, including local councils and representatives of waterway users, to develop the detail of a new plan. 

Some of the criticism in recent years is that the ‘liveaboard continuous cruisers’ have made it harder for genuine visiting boaters to find spaces at visitor moorings and ‘hotspots’. BW said it would look for a way of ensuring such space is kept available for boaters who are genuinely just ‘passing through’. 

The housing minister, Grant Shapps, last week promised a new flexibility in granting planning permission for residential moorings, and BW said it would work with local councils on the Lee & Stort to create such moorings. 

It is also looking to keep future growth in boat numbers at a ‘sustainable level’.

This winter, British Waterways will be offering winter mooring permits at five locations between Stonebridge and Hertford, and says it believes that during the Olympics next year there is room for the hundreds of visiting boats expected and the existing London boaters without major disruption. 

Sally Ash, head of boating at British Waterways, said: “We recognise that the residential boating communities that have grown up along the towpath have a particular vested interest in their continued availability as a place to live. We hope very much that stakeholder representatives will support the concept of a new body to accelerate the development of better arrangements for boaters, and will help us to make this happen.


Liveaboard boats on the Lee at Cheshunt.

 

Andrew Denny  | 4.25pm


Friday 26 August

Today's news from the web

  • Thames lowered to keep Reading Festival campers dry bbc.co.uk

    The River Thames close to the Reading Festival site has been lowered by six inches (15cm) to help water drain from the campsite. The Environment Agency, which controls the river levels, said lowering it gave "more leeway" to combat flooding. The river levels have been reduced by opening weirs downstream of the site to allow more water through. Heavy rain is predicted for Friday, the first day of the festival, according to the BBC and the Met Office....

  • Windsor Castle will be powered by hydro-electricity from Romney weir bbc.co.uk

    Windsor Castle will be powered by hydro-electricity, the royal household has said. The castle will be supplied by Southeast Power Engineering Ltd (SEPEL), after former renewable energy plans were halted in 2009. Two hydro-electric turbines at Romney Weir on the River Thames will be lifted into position by a crane in late September, the firm said. The 40-tonne Archimedes Screw turbines will be ready to operate from November....


Wednesday 24 August

Today's news from the web

  • Boaters hit by canal vandalism at Wigan wigantoday.net

    Fed-up boaters were stuck on Wigan’s canal for more than half a day after the water was drained by vandals overnight. Four canal boats were moored on the Leeds and Liverpool canal, opposite the Shanghai Palace off Poolstock Lane, when youths damaged the locks in Chapel Lane, causing the water level to drop to such a level the basin was almost dry. It took almost a day for an operative from British Waterways to refill the canal....


Sunday 21 August

Today's news from the web

  • 'Boat' hotel to be hoisted above Thames dailymail.co.uk

    A bizarre new hotel - shaped like a boat - is to be placed on top of the Queen Elizabeth Concert hall peering out over the River Thames. The nautical building, due to be hoisted into position in December, will be equipped with a mast and look-out station and guests will be expected to keep a detailed log and hoist a flag to indicate they are aboard....


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