NABO’s regular meeting with CRT
On 7th February 2022, Mike Rodd and Anne Husar had their regular meeting with CRT’s Matthew Symonds and Rachel Howard and, on this occasion, Sean McGinley, who covered the situation regarding the Ferrybridge fish deaths and suspension of freight movement.
Concerns over facility closures: the facility block at Sutton Cheney has expensive problems with fly tipping, costing nearly £100,000 to service this site. CRT is proposing to relocate the services to Market Bosworth. In Marple, the development of the site started sooner than expected and the facilities were closed at short notice. The regional team is working to put alternative provision in place. At Barbridge, the bridge has been damaged and bins can’t be serviced while it is being repaired. A review of facilities is currently taking place, which will result in an agreed standard and best use of the budget for service facilities (e.g. replacing buildings which are vulnerable to vandalism with more robust open-air facilities). NABO raised complaints by London boaters about the facilities (closed bin sites, broken Elsans, distance between facilities, rubbish not collected at Little Venice). CRT replied that it has issued an update to the London Mooring Strategy proposals, which includes details on more sites for additional facilities and it will consult on specific proposals for additional facilities at Steel Road. In response to a question about future sites allowing recycling, CRT replied that Biffa has some segregated waste at source, but it normally separates waste off-site.
Fish deaths on the Aire and Calder near Ferrybridge: in December last year these seemed to coincide with the passage of the two freight vessels currently operating on this length. CRT suspected that the craft were disturbing what was believed to be contaminated silt, creating a toxic environment for the fish and stunning them, making them more susceptible to propellers. The fish were checked and were determined to have been healthy before they were sliced up. In an attempt to reduce boat impacts, CRT asked the operators to run with lighter loads and reduce their draught from around 7’ to 6’6”. The next passage at the reduced draught resulted in around 100 fish deaths and CRT decided to suspend freight traffic for eight weeks so that it could carry out further investigations. Samples of the water and silt were taken at 13 locations over a 3km length of the navigation. It is suspected that pollution is entering the waterway from a Yorkshire Water combined sewer outfall (CSO) and CRT has requested data from Yorkshire Water on the dates and times of the CSO spills. It is also preparing dredging plans and expects to have freight resuming as soon as possible.
NABO asked if there is any value to get heritage status for the whole of the waterways. CRT replied that this has been considered, but it might undermine the viability of the network, because caring for World Heritage designated sites would cost more and it could also undermine the value of the heritage status of those already designated.
The annual boater survey started in March. CRT will run a separate survey in the summer about liveaboard boaters’ use of their boats.
‘No moorings’ and safety on the River Lea: CRT is currently consulting on proposals to strike a balance between London’s continuous cruiser use and those who wish to visit the city from other areas. If the proposals go ahead, they will be phased in later in the summer and more staff will be employed to manage the sites. CRT engaged an external facilitator to consult ‘stakeholder representatives’ about concerns with the River Lea water safety zone proposals. From January it has implemented an ‘improper mooring’ process. NABO asked about rowers who break speed limits and CRT noted that it expects rowers to follow safety procedures and operating proposals. The waterway has been used for over 100 years by rowers, who happily co-existed with other users for a long time. But it has become harder with more boats now mooring in continuous lines. The speed limit is not legally imposed, so there is no specific speed restriction on rowers.