Rich in heritage, abundant in wildlife and alive with culture, inland waterways are as popular today as they've ever been. Half the population lives within five miles of one of our canals and rivers and an incredible 13 million people use them every year as part of their everyday life – as a short-cut to work, walking the dog or simply taking time-out and watching the boats.
Independent surveys show that nine out of ten people agree that they are an important part of the nation's heritage, and it's British Waterways' job to ensure they remain so, whilst serving a modern purpose for the local communities through which they pass.
As part of its plans to establish a ‘national trust’ for the nation’s canals and rivers, British Waterways (BW) together with the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust (KACT) are piloting an innovative approach to managing the 200-year old Kennet & Avon Canal. The launch of the initiative will give the people that use and enjoy the waterway and the communities that live alongside it a much greater say in how the canal is managed.
Following discussions, which also included representatives from the Inland Waterways Association (IWA), the KACT and BW will work together in setting up a Waterways Partnership Board for the canal. Members will be drawn from the highest level from the five local authorities and other key stakeholders who came together and led on the canal’s restoration.
The pilot includes reviewing the current plans of both organisations including development, operations, funding requirements etc. and by September agree and produce a combined Waterway Area Plan for the canal corridor which can be implemented by all partners.
It is hoped that the pilot will provide BW with valuable information and experience on how to put waterways on a 'more sustainable footing' and ensure the lessons are incorporated into the consultation on the setting up of a new third sector body.
Why is this idea important?
Now that we have had a change of Government it will be interesting to see how BW faces its future. Spending cuts are the order of the day but the budget for canals should not be pruned without risking the neglect of vital structures for safety as well as navigational issues.
The above is a great plan by BW and we wish it every sucess – in short the government should support it as it would protect our inland waterways heritage and the communities reliant upon it.
Apologies for the shameless cut and paste from the BW website but they know their cause.