Does Welches Dam attack hide IWA's own failure?

September 2017 - Is IWA's blistering attack on the Environment Agency hiding its own inaction over many years? Welches Dam Lock was stanked off 2006 preventing its use. However, the IWA, as a campaigning organisation appears to have done little over the years to address this issue. Allan Richards digs up some little known facts.

It took some five years for IWA to get its ducks in a row and actually respond to the Welches Dam Lock closure. On 17 October 2011 it posted on its website under a title of 'EA Waterways Under Threat - Welches Dam Lock' the following -

“Notorious for being connected by the system's smallest lock (47 ft) to the system's leakiest cut, this lock has been closed by stealth by the EA for several years by a “temporary” coffer dam, ostensibly to prevent water seepage, but in fact severing passage, of which there is a statutory right enshrined in law. Unfortunately EA denies it has a statutory responsibility to fix the lock, and even if they did, it’s too costly for the limited use in the current circumstances regarding funding.

“The issue might eventually be sorted by the provision of the final stage of the proposed Fenlands Link, should this ever reach fruition. But in the meantime an important principle is at stake, what to do about a navigation authority not acting to carry out its legal responsibilities. It’s a matter that is currently taxing IWA’s Peterborough Branch and IWA’s Navigation Committee. IWA has taken preliminary legal soundings citing an option to pursue a court case incurring a possible legal bill of over £100,000.

“IWA national chairman Clive Henderson and Navigation Committee chairman Paul Roper are to meet with representatives from the Peterborough Branch shortly to consider possible campaign options. In addition to legal action, an alternative course may be to investigate acquiring a temporary lease for the waterway and utilising volunteers to restore the waterway possibly with a larger lock, as was historically undertaken for the southern Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.”

So, IWA were rather belatedly, in 2011, proposing two possible options to deal with the situation that had developed -

- take EA to court to force it to discharge its statutory duties.
- take a lease to enable IWA to restore the cut and lock using its own resources.

Some six years later IWA has failed to progress either option thus sending a clear signal to government despite its attack on the EA reported last week in The Floater (IWA launches attack on Environment Agency) that it can continue to under-fund EA and ignore its statutory duties.

Photos: (1st) The IWA news item, (2nd) Paul Roper in 2011, (3rd) Clive Henderson.

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