Rivers transfer – the timeline
THE OFTEN-DISCUSSED idea of merging the Environment Agency’s river navigations into the Canal & River Trust network is on the cards again – with a joint working group established, and a rough timetable set for the way ahead.
The transfer of the 620 miles of waterways including the Thames, Medway, Great Ouse and Nene was originally proposed as part of the 2012 transformation of the former nationalised British Waterways into the charitable CRT. But the plan was repeatedly shelved owing to difficulties of dividing responsibility for navigation and other functions (such as flood control) and the lack of any kind of property ‘dowry’ to support it – see our news feature in CanalBoat, March, for the full story.
Now, however, not only has the Waterways Minister Rory Stewart expressed his keenness for the idea, but department Defra has got together with the two navigation authorities to plan the way forward.
2015: Defra, CRT and EA agreed to work together towards a transfer. Start of 2016: Working group set up. First half of 2016: ‘Phase 1’ – gathering information, site visits, ‘getting a feel for the costs’, consultation with user groups, reporting on the options.
Second half of 2016: ‘Phase 2’ – detailed assessment of the options. 2018-19: target for transfer of waterways. The work is still at an early stage, but the transfer is clearly back on the agenda, within the lifetime of the current parliament.