Trust finally bids for EA waterways

December 2017 - Canal and River Trust has given a muted and brief confirmation that it has finally bid to take over the Environment Agency's navigations including the Thames and East Anglian rivers, reports Peter Underwood.

The bid to swallow up the Eivironmewnt Agency's waters did not come with a big annoucement from C&RT trustees nor it's Chief Executive; instead it appeared in the in-house newsletter of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) in an apparent leak.

The IWA has long advocated the takeover and generally works hand-in-glove with C&RT. It's announcement said: “ IWA is aware that Canal & River Trust has recently made a formal submission to Defra for the transfer of the Environment Agency’s navigation responsibilities.”

It was only after The Floater checked the veracity of the story with the C&RT that a press officer said: “Following 18 months of productive joint working with the Environment Agency and a recent meeting with the Waterways Minister, Therese Coffey MP, the Canal & River Trust was asked to make a written submission to Defra setting out its outline proposals for a transfer to the Trust of the river navigations operated by the Agency.
“Defra will now give this its due consideration. It is the Trust’s understanding that it remains Government policy to support the transfer at the right time and provided it offers good value for taxpayers.

“The Trust’s proposal sets out the need for the transfer to include a long-term funding commitment, such as that which has proven so vital to the Trust’s success since 2012. The Trust awaits Defra’s response with no timescales currently defined.”

Meanwhile the IWA's new national chairman, Ivor Caplan, has been pedalling furiously to lobby the Tory government to remove another set of waterways from public ownership and accountability and has written to the Waterway Minister, Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, to 'assure her of IWA’s support for the proposal'.

The IWA says the transfer of these navigations to Canal & River Trust 'would allow these waterways to benefit from improved maintenance, third party funding opportunities and the economies of scale to be gained from being part of a larger navigation authority'.

The IWA says it has also written to about one hundred MPs to ask them to write to the Minister with their support, including MPs with EA navigations in their constituencies, members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways, and other MPs who have previously indicated their support for the transfer. To date 16 MPs have responded positively, confirming that they would write to the Waterway Minister. ​

Photos: (1st) Ivor Caplan, new IWA chair, will be lobbying government, (2nd) Therese Coffey, Suffolk Tory MP with waterways responsibilities.

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