EA waterways ‘could transfer by 2019’
WE ARE LIKELY to know by the end of this year whether the Government will support proposals to transfer the Environment Agency’s river navigations
(including the Thames, Nene, Great Ouse and Medway) into the Canal & River Trust. And if it does, the change could happen over the following two years.
Sticking points in past negotiations have concerned the need for a ‘dowry’ before CRT will take on new liabilities (unlike CRT, the EA has no commercial property portfolio to bring in extra income); and dividing responsibility for the EA’s structures (such as locks, weirs and sluices) between navigation functions (which would transfer to CRT) and flood control (which would stay with the EA).
Although changes in government following the Brexit vote (which include a new Waterways Minister Thérèse Coffey) have delayed progress, CRT Chief Executive Richard Parry told CB it was still very much a “work in progress”. Once details have been worked out, and it is known how much money the Government is prepared to put in both upfront and as ongoing funding, a joint proposition can be put forward (with a target of ‘by Christmas’) for a ministerial ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
If the answer is ‘yes’, CRT could take charge over “a couple of years”, with completion by 2019.