Shepreth Wildlife Park and the online rope company, Buy Rope, are requesting donations of natural fibre rope for the Park’s two Sumatran tigers, Kelabu and Ratna. The Park has been home to the two tigers, since they were transferred from Chessington World of Adventures in March this year. The park is also home to meerkats, macaques, emus, caiman and lynx. With numbers of Sumatran tigers in the wild estimated at between 300 and 500, Ratna (aged 16) was part of a breeding programme to keep the critically endangered tigers alive in captivity. Now retired from breeding, she lives at Shepreth with her daughter Kelabu (aged 11).

Rope is used to keep the tigers stimulated and encourages natural behaviour, which has a positive effect on their physical and mental health. Buy Rope was first approached by Shepreth in May and has since donated two large coir boat fenders, which have been a big hit with Kelabu in particular. Donations of old boat rope will help the park to continue to provide innovative enrichment, including the creation of a tiger-sized cat scratch-post!

Peter Fellows says it’s time to stop the towpath menace.

For several years, NABO has been getting reports from boaters of cyclists speeding along towpaths, causing collisions and resulting injuries to pedestrians, pets and wildlife – and other cyclists. Over the summer, I have received yet more letters from boaters describing incidents and near-misses, and the issue was also highlighted by Mark Townsend in The Guardian in July (who has permitted me to reprint his article, which also introduced me to the term ‘Cyclopaths’).

National inland navigation forum meeting

NINF met at the St. Pancras Cruising Club in February with all but one of the member bodies represented. This forum continues to be a useful meeting point, bringing together navigational bodies involved with CRT, EA and other navigation authorities. There was much discussion surrounding issues relating to the possibility of the EA’s navigational responsibilities being taken over by CRT. Feedback was that, within CRT, it was believed that any future funding from Government would depend on the Trust taking on the EA’s navigational responsibilities. It was felt that the best NINF could do at this stage was to use all its political contacts to attempt to ensure an acceptable outcome. It was also felt that all bodies should ensure that they were invited to future meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways, as it appeared that most had not been invited to recent meetings.

Issues relating to threats to ban boats from using various so-called polluting fuels in their stoves were discussed. It was agreed to monitor the situation closely as the consequences would be very serious for many users. Likewise, issues relating to future developments on the availability/charging for red diesel need to be monitored carefully.

One interesting point was that, as valuable as the BSS scheme is, it is often interpreted as ensuring that people buying boats with BSS certification are guaranteed that the boat is fully inspected in terms of its operation. Maybe a slightly different name for the scheme might be considered so as to truly reflect what it is?

Mike Rodd

Clean Air Strategy

David Fletcher looks at the options for boat stoves in the light of new regulations.

DEFRA has just updated its report on the Clean Air Strategy. This is all about the impact of pollution from solid-fuel stoves. DEFRA is telling us how it intends to tackle these (and other) sources of air pollution, making our air healthier to breathe, protecting nature and boosting the economy. Air quality is known to be the biggest environmental health risk in the UK, as it shortens lives and contributes to chronic illness.  Health can be affected both by short-term, high-pollution events and by long-term exposure to lower levels.

Not a good summer for boating

Despite the excellent boating weather, for much of the summer, CRT had emergency navigation closures in force. This was the situation in July, when there were seventeen:

Locks 1 – 12, Macclesfield Canal 
Lock 7, Actons Lock, Regents Canal 
Lock 2, Belan Lock, Montgomery Canal 
Teeces Bridge, Wyrley & Essington Canal 
Lock 4, Aston, Birmingham & Fazeley CanalLock 62, Pavilion Lock and Lock 67, Booth Lane Top Lock, Trent & Mersey Canal
Camp Hill Top Lock to Knowle Top Lock, Grand Union Canal 
Glasson Flight, Lancaster Canal 
Bridge 46, Bevans Lane Bridge, Mon & Brec Canal
Bridge 10, Holmes Swing Bridge to Stanley Lock Flight/ Eldonian Village, Leeds & Liverpool Canal 
Marsh Lock, Weaver Navigation/Manchester Ship Canal 
Lock 11, Marple, Peak Forest Canal
Stanthorne Lock to Wardle Lock, Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union Canal 
Three Mills Lock, River Lee Navigation
Middlewood Locks, Manchester, Bury & Bolton Canal
Stainton Aqueduct, Lancaster
Lock 9, Huddersfield Narrow Canal