Gov­ern­ment slated over EA rivers’ fund­ing cri­sis

Canal Boat - - News -

THE GOV­ERN­MENT IS ‘dodg­ing the is­sue’ of en­sur­ing the En­vi­ro­ment Agency main­tains its rivers in line with statu­tory obli­ga­tions, the In­land Wa­ter­ways As­so­ci­a­tion claims.

With a num­ber of less-used parts of the EA’s Anglian wa­ter­ways im­pass­able (for ten years in the case of Welches Dam), IWA high­lighted an in­ter­nal doc­u­ment ad­mit­ting that fur­ther Anglian rivers (such as the Nene or Great Ouse) could close if re­pairs were un­af­ford­able (see CB, April).

This led to par­lia­men­tary ques­tions, in re­ply to which Wa­ter­ways Min­is­ter Thérèse Cof­fey con­firmed that “if there is a safety risk to mem­bers of the pub­lic then re­pairs will be un­der­taken to re­move the risk or the as­set will be closed”.

She added that the EA would con­sider re­open­ing closed wa­ter­ways de­pend­ing on “fu­ture fund­ing avail­able and the im­por­tance, such as the level of use” of the wa­ter­way.

IWA re­sponded that this ig­nores the EA’s main­te­nance obli­ga­tions, and that level of use “should not be a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor” and of­ten re­sults from poor main­te­nance. Na­tional chair­man Les Etheridge said “We can only think that the Min­is­ter has been in­com­pletely briefed by EA of­fi­cials as to the se­ri­ous­ness of the present fund­ing cri­sis.”

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