The priorities for restoration
Kevin Blick’s column ( CB, Jan) asks a fair question as to how those canals currently being restored will be maintained. He assumes that the fixed amount of money currently spent on maintenance will be more thinly spread when there are more waterways to keep open.
Andrew Cope ( CB, Feb) suggests that the Inland Waterways Association would be able to determine priorities for restoration so that funds are targeted onto certain key schemes within the national interconnected network.
IWA, under its charitable objectives, is committed to support all waterway restoration schemes because, in simple terms, IWA believes that waterways bring public benefits and are, therefore, ‘a good thing’ – and more of a good thing is better.
What IWA’s Restoration Committee does is encourage proponents of waterway restorations to consider the costs and benefits of their proposal. Each project has its own set of benefits which it brings to its locality – not just the boating and the tourist spend but also the public access, the cooling water, the safe routes for service pipes and cables, the storm water attenuation, and the improved development land values from being waterside. For the boating opportunities, the waterway operator will receive revenue in licence fees from boaters.
Most, if not all, of the other benefits can be used as opportunities to bring in additional revenue. Local people who value their waterway will give benefit in kind by volunteering to help with maintenance.
The resources to keep each waterway open are for each project to understand and develop – and there’s much more to the mix than direct central government support.
We encourage waterway restoration organisations to think laterally about what business and economic opportunities their project will bring – and to ensure that a proportion of that wealth finds its way into the project on a continuing basis. It is this approach which will determine a sustainable future for more waterways.
Deputy Chair, Restoration Committee IWA Beautiful late afternoon alongside @GranthamCanal