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Wednesday 31 August

Today's news from the web

  • 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....

  • You can take the slow lane all the way down the River Lot independent.co.uk

    For the past 24 hours we have been creeping noiselessly down the Lot River in a solar-powered floating hotel, designed by our captain, Dominique Renouf. She launched her Lot cruise this summer, having decamped from the overcrowded Canal du Midi in search of peace. And she has certainly found it here – all morning, the beating of herons' wings and the occasional cry of some mournful water creature are all that have broken the silence....

  • Thames 'twins' with Ganges oxfordmail.co.uk

    The River Thames is to twin with the River Ganges in India in a £210,000 initiative to share ways to protect wildlife and reduce pollution. Indian scientists will visit the UK to learn how the Thames was restored from being biologically dead in the 1950s to become one of the cleanest urban rivers in the world. Villagers along 1,660 kilometres of the upper Ganges and its tributary will be helped to look after their rivers by changing farming methods and reducing pressure on fish stocks. The Thames Rivers Restoration Trust is funding the project using prize money from the 2010 Theiss Riverprize....

  • Full steam ahead for Crofton Pumping Station gazetteandherald.co.uk

    The Kennet and Avon Canal’s Crofton Pumping Station, which attracts tens of thousands of tourists a year, was forced to close three weeks ago when its drinking water supply was found to be contaminated with canal water. ... The 200-year-old pumping station had to be closed for health and safety reasons until arrangements could be made for a new storage tank to hold freshly delivered supplies of water. It re-opens tomorrow but initially the Engineman’s Rest café may be restricted to selling ice creams, bottled and canned drinks, sweets and other pre-packaged food....

  • Tackling Rod Licence Evasion in Stoke environment-agency.gov.uk

    This weekend (20 & 21 August 2011), Environment Agency officers will be on the look out for rod licence evaders when carrying out a series of checks in Stoke-on-Trent. This activity is part of a targeted fisheries operation in the Midlands region, which is known to have a higher-than-average rod licence evasion rate. During a rod licence blitz over the Easter holidays, officers in the Environment Agency's Midlands Environmental Crime Team checked 1,110 anglers at known high rod licence evasion hot-spots across the Midlands and detected 82 offences. Anglers who were unable to provide a satisfactory name and address had their tackle seized. ...

  • ‘Canal network grinding to halt’ says Braunston marina MD Tim Coghlan northamptonchron.co.uk

    Northamptonshire's historic canal network is “grinding to a halt” due of a chronic lack of rain and too many boats on the water, the managing director of a county marina has warned. A dry summer and falling water levels, combined with increasing numbers of boaters hitting the county’s popular stretches of canal and a huge increase in local marinas, has left the waterways “close to meltdown”. Tim Coghlan, managing director at Braunston Marina, said the lack of rain and heavy traffic had seen the height of the canals fall dramatically this summer. The water in his marina, he said, had fallen by around eight inches....

  • Thames Tunnel project commitment to use river transport for construction edie.net

    Thames Water and engineering consultants BMT Isis have announced the latest stage of the Thames Tunnel project, which aims to clean-up the River Thames by tackling sewer discharges. As part of the project, the River Thames will be used to support construction and the transport of excavated material by barge boat. Thames Tunnel's design manager, Gareth Thomas, said: "The identification of a practical, safe and economic bulk-material, river transport strategy is a key issue for the project. BMT Isis's Lee Rhodes said: "We are committed to providing assurance to the Thames Tunnel team on the feasibility of using the river for the movement of construction and excavated material and that from a navigational perspective it will also be safe and have no adverse impact on existing river users. ...

Saturday 20 August

Today's news from the web

  • I forgot, I don't like family vacations guardian.co.uk

    To plan a holiday properly, you should sit and visualise spending 24 hours a day with your family [Peter White] "Size, or the lack of it, is the key ­factor … they are, after all, called narrowboats" If the makers of the returning Big Brother series really want to plumb the depths of human incompatibility, may I respectfully suggest that they insert their celebrities into a narrowboat (70ft by 7ft), and set them adrift on the Kennet and Avon canal. Ingredients they might consider adding to ensure maximum angst: a seven-year-old boy who knows no fear; a nine-year-old girl who's almost too good to be true; a teenager who believes life without her computer is equivalent to being bombed back to the stone age. Oh yes, and just to make sure: three distinct, but inter-related families, who all know that there is only one right way to do everything, and it's theirs. I know this is a winning formula: I've just done it, and I bear the scars....

Thursday 18 August

Blue-green algae found on Worcester & Birmingham canal

Blue green algae (BGA) has been reported during the summer in the Worcester & Birmingham canal at Alvechurch, and at the nearby Bittell reservoir, one of the canal's main reservoirs. Some blue-green algae are capable of producing toxins, but blue-green algal blooms and scums are not always toxic and it is not possible to tell from its appearance whether a bloom or scum is harmful.

Andrew Denny  | 2.57pm

Today's news from the web

  • Boaters wanted to help charity canoeists through tunnels waterscape.com

    Two canoeists preparing to set out on a five-day charity journey from London to Stoke by canal need the help of the boating community to get past the biggest obstacles on their route – Blisworth and Braunston Tunnels. Andy Armstrong and Gaz Bailey, who both work for Network Rail in Stoke, are planning to paddle from the company’s headquarters in Paddington, London, back to their own office, between 25 and 30 August, to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society. They will be travelling on the Grand Union Canal, the Oxford Canal, the Coventry Canal, and the Trent & Mersey Canal....

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