Where there's water, there's money

April 2017 - Making money from canals and waterways comes in many shapes and forms – but the property business is a never-failing source of income, as Peter Underwood reports.

Just by being there our waterways are earning the Canal & River Trust around £7.4m every year. That's how much it earns by allowing developers and other land owners to drain surface water into the canals rather than paying to connect drains to the public sewer.

The concept isn't new but it does have a section of the C&RT website devoted to it.

The pamphlet asks: “Did you know that Surface Water from property and development sites can be drained into the canal?”

It goes on to say: “Our extensive waterway network provides an opportunity for land owners, developers and tenants to drain surface water directly into our canals and save money.

“Canal & River Trust, which now has charitable status, recognises the value of such facilities and is keen to work with landowners in a mutually beneficial way. As we are not a statutory drainage authority the Trust is not obliged to accept discharges into the network, but can do so if appropriate by agreement.”

C&RT promotes the idea as a “Valuable Green Alternative to the Public System” and says that Utility Companies and Planning Authorities are frequently referring developers and landowners to the Canal & River Trust to investigate water discharge into the canals, particularly where the site is within 30 meters of the canal.

The Trust says it has many examples of agreements are in residential, industrial and rural locations where alternative options would have been cost prohibitive or unsuitable and adds that it is now set up to accept water discharges on competitive commercial terms

Developers are told drainage into a canal may:
• Eliminate the need for a pumped discharge to an adopted sewer.
• Allow increased water flow discharge rates thereby reducing cost of on-site attenuation.
• Free up developable site area increasing developers’ profit.
• Eliminate the need to lay lengthy pipe runs in the highway to access an adopted sewer.

C&RT says its charges are based on costs are incurred in dealing with additional water to the navigation such as the:
• works necessary to protect the banks from increased flood risk.
• cost of accommodating pipes in any towpath improvement works.
• cost and maintenance of weirage to dispose of storm water draining onto the Trust’s network.

Its deals with developers and landowners usually takes the form of an initial premium and a licence with an annual commercial payment, subject to periodic review.

It says: “These licences are bespoke to each individual situation and are drawn up by our solicitors.

“Do speak to one of our Regional Surveyors early in your planning stages to find out more about the benefits it could mean for your property.”

Photo: CRT leaflet about Surface Water Drainage.

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