CRT is opening up the system for general navigation from 1 June. Currently no overnight stays are allowed but CRT is hoping this will be relaxed, look out for CRT updates. The EA is following CRT’s lead. Parts of the Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Leeds and Liverpool and Huddersfield canals remain closed due to low water levels. Keep an eye on CRT notices for updates. With the current weather, water shortages are going to come this summer.
The CRT Boater’s Update on 28 May included this information:
Unless your boat is your primary residence (i.e. you permanently live on it) overnight stays on your boat are not currently permitted.
Mooring exemptions ended on 23 May. This means that visitor moorings have reverted to locally signed stay times, unsigned stretches are 14-day-stay and our guidance for continuous cruisers comes back into force. This effectively means that if your boat is moored on a 14-day mooring and hasn’t moved since lockdown began then you need to move your boat by 6 June.
Please bear in mind that it will take time to get the entire network fully operational. As you will expect, booking for some passages and services will be required. Some sections and structures may be closed for a further period. This page details which waterway structures fall into those categories.
Much of the network’s infrastructure has not been used for a good couple of months – we have done all our safety checks but with more active use we expect there will be some niggles and issues as boats begin to cruise further afield. If you come across any, please do let us know.
If you are unable move your boat because you are self-isolating or shielding you need to ensure that you’ve told your local licence support officer.
For leisure boat owners, there is catch 22 issue for boaters without a home mooring and who are not living aboard. CRT want them to move, but they are not allowed to stay overnight. Best to talk to CRT on this on a case by case. Leisure boaters can only visit the boat if you can answer yes to these four questions:
Have I confirmed with my mooring provider, e.g. marina, that I can access my boat?
Is my boat near enough that I can travel to and from it safely in one day (no overnight stays are permitted)?
Can I get on my boat while still strictly observing social distancing?
Am I, and my boat, in England (different rules apply in Wales)?
Boat Safety Scheme extensions. The suspension of BSS examinations has been lifted and new guidance for boat owners on preparing boats for examination in the time of COVID-19 has been published here: BSS Examination Preparation Linked to Covid-19 protocols.
As there is now a considerable backlog of boats needing to renew their certificates, the temporary extension to safety certificates for those craft requiring an examination has been extended until 31 July 2020 to provide all boaters awaiting their examinations with sufficient time to arrange this. We strongly urge those who can to book their examinations to do so as soon as possible so that examiners can resume working in line with the agreed BSS Examination Preparation protocol, to start to address the backlog of examinations and keep the waterways safe for all to enjoy.
Remember that examiners are just as worried about coming to your boat, as you are worried about having them on board. It can be expected that boaters will need to sanitise the work surfaces of the boat, remove any clutter that obstructs the examination, and vacate the boat at least for the period of the examination, maybe some days before. It will take some discussion, preparation and trust to achieve the result. We suggest to use an examiner that is known to you, or at least you have used before.
If you are a boat owner who is self-isolating or are in a high-risk group who is ‘shielding’ and whose BSS certificate has or is due to expire and you require an examination, you should contact your licence support officer to discuss your circumstances.
Thames boating clubs. On the 16 May it was announced that five organisations representing recreational powered craft users on the non-tidal Thames have agreed to join forces to encourage greater engagement and co-operation with the Environment Agency, which is responsible for managing the waterway. This group then wrote on the 20 May 2020 regarding the lifting of restrictions to recreational powered craft boating on the Thames. Noting their belief that it is important not to delay freedom of navigation across the whole waterway because of local issues affecting particular locks or reaches. The group put forward a series of recommendations. See: here.
CRT Elected Reps An online meeting was held on 15 May to discuss coming out of lockdown and the impact on boaters. Although the general feeling was that a slower approach should be taken, CRT went ahead with its plans as published, albeit with promises of leniency for any boater experiencing difficulties in moving as required. Over the past few weeks there have been several instances of uncollected rubbish, leading to overflowing bins and disgruntled boaters and public. Action was quickly taken when flagged up by Helen. Our next meeting, also online, is on 28 July.
APPWG. Mike Rodd attended the video-conference meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways on May 14. This well "attended" meeting was chaired by the APPWG's Chairman, Michael Fabricant, and focused on the need for dedicated financial support for waterways businesses. It was pointed out that these businesses are highly seasonal and thus are being hit hard by the lockdown and, unless urgent funding is provided by Government, many will fail. The meeting called for the Government to provide targeted support for the inland waterways sector.
Covid plans . Following NABO Council’s May meeting, an open letter was sent to Richard Parry raising several concerns including:
NABO noted that its members are appreciative of the steps CRT is taking to contact and protect vulnerable boaters and the steps already taken to cushion the effects of the lockdown on the trade and on boaters generally. See: here.
Navigation advisory group. CRT has generally not been discussing it's thinking on Covid 19 measures with the group. It is apparent that CRT takes its lead largly from DEFRA. This is in contrast with BSS which has been very active with the committees to get advice. Some social media reports about veg management on the S Oxford has been discussed in the group, and CRT have agreed that the winter cutting has not been correct and action will be taken. The power of social media strikes again. Let us do more of it please.
Toddbrook. Following the long item in NN a few weeks back, some additional reports on the dam have come into the public domain. There are published on Narrowboatworld here. Nothing new, but further background and opinion of the general state of neglect. Makes sad reading.
We are all looking forward to the time this lockdown is lifted and we can safely escape to the waterways. It is getting nearer. There are no face-to-face meetings planned. Routine meetings will be attempted by tele- or video- conferences. BSS techncial work continues in this way.
Be sure that we are as active as ever in these times. There is plenty of contact to be made and influence to be brought to bear for the good of boaters.
Navigation Advisory Group. David Fletcher will call into the next zoom meeting in mid-June. The main subject will be the reopening of the system and vegetation management to get the towpaths ready. Water supply is also bound to come up.
The next NABO Council will be a telephone conference on Saturday 21 June at 10.15. Members are very welcome to take part. Please let us know so that we can make arrangements,
We are changing our business address with immediate effect. The new address is on the website and will be used with all future correspondence. Mail sent to previous addresses will be collected and answered. This situation is largely because of the difficulties we have experienced in using the PO Box in the lockdown.
Membership renewals. The June renewals are going out mostly by email. Please do check and see, particularly if you pay by transfer, PayPal etc. Please don’t pay by cheque if at all possible.
Website security. One of the key factors in the website security is login credential for members. Following a recent review we are going to force a password change and increase the complexity of passwords from mid-June. The new requirement will be for nine characters with at least one each of upper case, lower case, number and special character. If you make the change now you can use your old password to get in. Otherwise you will have to use the ‘update password’ link. Remember that your email address is not your user name, and that if your email address is out of date, then the forgotten password routine does not work either. Any problems, we are here to help.
The next edition of NABO News will be prepared in July after with a copy date of 28 June. Please get your items to the editor.
Web Master on behalf of NABO Council
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