Defra turns down C&RT's bid for EA waters

January 2018 - Canal & River Trust has been less than open about it's bid to Defra to take over the Environment Agency navigations and even the news today that it had failed only crept out by way of a Facebook post from boaters. Peter Underwood reports.

It was a post of a River Nene Facebook page today saying that Irven Forbes, Waterway Manager for the Environment Agency was telling boating organisations on the Nene that C&RT will not be taking over the EA waterways ' at this time', was the first most knew.

Clearly C&RT's bid – the details of which have been kept secret – had been rejected by the government, and it's likely that boaters may never know the reasons why.

A question to Jonathan Ludford, C&RT's senior spin doctor, produced this response: “We are disappointed that Defra has indicated that it is not minded to proceed with the transfer of the river navigations currently managed by the Environment Agency to the Canal & River Trust.

“Having worked positively and collaboratively with the EA over the past 18 months or so to put forward a proposal, we remain convinced that the transfer would be in the wider public interest. It would deliver the real essence of value for taxpayers, and benefits for the users of these waterways whilst securing the long-term future of the navigations themselves.

“We will of course continue to cooperate actively with the EA in the running of our respective navigations to ensure the best possible experience for all river and canal users.”​

The decision will bring bitter dissapointment for the Inland Waterways Association, who have long advocated a takeover but relief for some boaters in EA waterways who had become convinced that a C&RT takeover would be expensive and damaging.

Photo: Semi-tidal Thames locks on EA waters.

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