British Waterways Annual Report 2009/2010


The following press release was issued by BW this week and contains links to the Full 2009/2010 Accounts. We suspect that readers will look at Directors remuneration on page 46 as a first stop but the whole report is worth reading

to understand the scale of operations. 94 pages – so settle down comfortably!

Download here:



Press RELEASE Annual Report & Accounts 2009/10
British Waterways’ Annual Report & Accounts 2009/10 was published today and a PDF can be downloaded from our website.  We’ve chosen to circulate an electronic version because of the environmental and cost saving benefits.  However, we have printed a small number of hard copies which can be requested by e-mailing your name and postal address to
Annual Report summary
Maintaining our historic canals and rivers
In 2009/10 direct expenditure on the waterways – which covers repairs, maintenance, customer service and regeneration projects, together with the related costs from support teams such as technical, safety, water, environment and heritage – amounted to £143m (75% of total operating expenditure).
·         £68m core waterway maintenance and customer operations
·         £29.7m on major infrastructure works
·         £22.2m on third party funded regeneration projects
·         £3.9m on dredging
·         £2m on culverts repairs
Increased popularity and support
A record 13 million people, an increase of 26% on the previous year, made over 380 million visits to the waterways. The number of visitors who would recommend the experience to others increased to well over 90%. The number of licensed boats increased to 34,944 and an e-petition on the Downing Street website in favour of BW retaining its property reached the top five petitions in less than a month.
Heritage highlights
UNESCO World Heritage Site status was granted to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal, putting it on an equal footing with the Acropolis. And the restoration of the Stourport Canal Basins was voted the best Heritage Lottery project of the year by the public.
Commercial income down
Our commercial activities have been adversely affected by the recession, income was lower than planned, in particular from joint ventures, but long term BW remains positive about future prospects.
Mixed news on BW employee safety incidents
We have been successful in reducing non-treatment and first-aid injuries. However, we have found it more difficult to reduce the number of more serious reportable incidents and have now embarked on a safety programme to improve attitude and behaviour amongst staff.
Teaming up with volunteers
A new volunteer team is building relationships with existing volunteer groups and developing new areas of support. The Waterways Action Squad is a growing group of 16-25 year old volunteers who want to look after and promote waterways in the north west of England. And a canal adoption scheme set up with the HFC bank in Birmingham, sees bank workers looking after a designated stretch of canal on a regular basis. A BT employee has been seconded full time to BW and is helping to promote the adoption scheme in the south. Our volunteering days rose in the last two years from 8,000 in 2007 to 14,600 in 2009 – and are valued at over £1m.
Making our waterways relevant for 21st century
We have committed to the Carbon Trust’s carbon management service for 2010 to help reduce our emissions and improve our data recording. We use an Environmental Appraisal process for all projects, and we aim to reduce the amount of waste taken to landfill by increasing segregation, re-use and recycling of waste materials.
We’re developing a number of small scale hydro electricity schemes to harness energy at weirs and have taken a 10% share in the Small Hydro Company, which looks for renewable energy opportunities. We are working with Partnerships for Renewables to install wind turbines on land alongside waterways and using heat exchange technology for waterside businesses provides a sustainable alternative to traditional air conditioning. Our towpaths are popular with commuters who have swapped their cars for foot and pedal, reducing CO2 emissions and congestion on the roads.
Complaints down, FOI up
In 2009/10 we had 362 first level complaints, down 13% on 2008/09, of which 66 (19%) went on to be considered by a director. The Ombudsman completed 22 cases during the year, of which eight were upheld wholly or in part.
The number of Freedom of Information Act requests tripled – 220 in 2009/10 compared with 85 in 2008/09. These FOI requests result in a considerable workload and we now have a dedicated person to make sure they are handled in a consistent manner.
The Future
Determined to find innovative ways for the waterways to thrive, despite the difficulties which current economic conditions are creating, our proposals to move them into a charitable trust would transform them from being a public sector liability into a popular cause. We are encouraged that the new coalition government wants positive discussions to continue. While the proposals only relate to England and Wales, constructive discussions are under way with the Scotland Government about how Scottish waterways can benefit from any proposed changes.