At our last Council meeting, I was asked to give some guidance to boaters on the present virus situation, in which, at the time of writing, England is in lockdown. Previously, there have been different levels, depending on your area, with England having a Tier 1, 2 or 3 level of precaution and Wales in total lockdown. Where there is an obligation to move as a continuous cruiser, for example, we come to its complications as follows: a Tier 2 lockdown states: ‘Journeys should be limited where possible, but you can still travel to go to the shops, work and hospitality places that are permitted to open. This also applies in a Tier 3 lockdown. CRT has made allowances for this. There are other factors: a boater may be self-isolating because of his or her vulnerability to the virus. Or you may have come into contact with a person suspected of having the virus and again having to self-isolate. There have been emails sent to boaters for not moving far enough, saying that, due to the present situation, no further action will be taken. I would suggest that if you receive one of these emails, you contact CRT to make sure that it’s not on any record that could lead to issues at a later date, such as a restricted licence. I would stress that you should be aware of your area’s level of lockdown. If you need help or are isolating, you should make your respective welfare and support officer aware at the earliest opportunity. If there are any problems, you are welcome to contact me for guidance.

Ken Hylins

DEFRA has published its intentions over solid fuels, coal and wood, which are proposed to become the Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020, coming into force on 1st May 2021. The legislation will need to be debated in both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force, but the dates for these debates are yet to be confirmed. The Regulations will phase out the supply of traditional house coal for domestic combustion and wet wood sold in units of up to 2m3, and introduce sulphur and smoke emission limits for manufactured solid fuels. The changes will be phased in between 2021 and 2023, with sales of small volumes of wet wood being phased out by 2022 and sales of traditional house coal by 2023. Stoves are not banned and these policies do not seek to prevent their installation or use. The intention is to ensure that people move away from burning more polluting fuels to less polluting fuels (from burning wet wood to burning dry wood and from traditional house coal to smokeless coal and low-sulphur manufactured solid fuels). Details are available at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/air-quality-using-cleaner-fuels-for-domestic-burning/outcome/summary-of-responses-and-government-response

Mark Tizard asks if it’s now the time for CRT to stop the constant PR spin and admit that they are beginning to lose the maintenance battle.

When navigation restarted in July, I thought we’d need to take account of potential water shortages when planning our cruising routes. Little did we realise that infrastructure failures were going to have a far greater influence. The latest Boaters Update says: ‘As we might have predicted, despite our best efforts, the combined impact of the extensive winter flooding, the long spring dry spell, and the 2-3 months with very few boat movements and hence almost no regular operation of paddles, locks and moveable bridges, has led to an increased number of asset failures, leading to unplanned restrictions on cruising in some places.’ This begs the question: who was doing the predicting? Surely not those walking the towpath, as they were nearly all furloughed. What best efforts? Surely not those working from home. It must refer to the eyes and ears of those continuous cruisers who have, in effect, become the first line of CRT’s maintenance regime. A boater posted this picture of Welford lock on social media with a warning that it looked like it was on its last legs. A few days later, there was a stoppage notice quoting ‘unexpected maintenance’. Unexpected, really!

Moorings will be available to purchase for one, two, three or four months from 1st November 2020 until 28th February 2021. Permits will go on sale from 1st October on a first-come, first-served basis. There are seven price bands, based on several factors including;

  • The pricing of nearby moorings;
  • The location of the mooring site;
  • The availability of facilities and services near to the mooring;
  • The level of demand for each site;

The price bands per metre, per month are: 

  • Band 0                £21.00
  • Band 1                £19.00
  • Band 2                £17.00
  • Band 3                £14.70
  • Band 4                £10.90
  • Band 5                £8.70
  • Band 6                £7.10

The mooring price bands have increased by 5% for the highest demand sites, in band 0 and 3% for bands 1-6. Some sites have changed price band in response to the high levels of demand last winter, with popular sites increasing in price but low demand sites have reduced in price.

Go to https://canalrivertrust.org.uk, and search ‘Winter moorings’ for individual mooring locations and prices.

A meeting of the APPWG was held on 14th May using the Zoom videoconferencing facility. NABO attended as observers – the norm for such meetings. This well-attended meeting was chaired by the APPWG’s Chairman, Michael Fabricant, and very appropriately focused on the need for dedicated financial support for waterways businesses.

The lead speaker was Paul Rodgers, the National Chairman of the IWA, who emphasised that most waterways businesses are highly seasonal and thus are being hit hard by the lockdown, and, unless urgent funding is provided by Government, many will fail. To this end, the IWA, British Marine, CRT and the Broads Authority are calling for the Government to provide targeted support for the inland waterways sector. They are asking for a specific financial aid package, similar to that recently announced for the fishing industry, to allow the navigation authorities to underwrite licence and mooring fees for waterways businesses this year. NABO totally supports this view and has independently approached the Government, essentially supporting this view.