Covid 19 situation. The latest news is of increased cases in the Manchester area. The Government FAQ’s are here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do Stay safe out there, this thing is not going away just yet.
Chair Mike reports: The Welsh canals finally opened on the 13th July and it was great to see that all the hire boats and day boats were immediately snapped up. Sadly most pubs were not able to open but local shops doing good business. The Mon and Brec, with little vegetation work having been done during the lockdown, is very overgrown and dangerously full of branches etc.
E scooters: Mike also reports that he has now experienced the new issue of e-scooters on the towpath - traveling at over 15mph. They are extremely dangerous to all and CRT simply must sort this out before someone is seriously injured.
Crofton: The pumping station is partially re-opened with guided tours available - see their website for times etc. Unfortunately, it has proved impossible to open the ever-popular cafe.
Red Diesel: In case you haven’t seen it, the Government has launched a consultation on the proposed implementation on the ‘Reforms to the tax treatment of red diesel and other rebated fuels’ for many (including pleasure craft).
See the consultation document here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/899174/Consultation_on_reforms_to_the_tax_treatment_of_red_diesel_and_other_rebated_fuels.pdf Section 5.30 – 5.45 covers private pleasure craft and includes eleven question (Q12-22) related to this section. The consultation closes on 20 October 2020.
Will the marina business be sustainable, with the initial cost of extra pump/tanks and the higher cost of smaller volume deliveries as they are split? They suggest that there are no ongoing costs, which is obviously not the case. White diesel in marinas will be uncompetitive; the risk is that boaters will buy at supermarkets and hump down the towpath and decant it, with all the environmental spillage risks this brings. And white diesel in the tank has an increased risk of theft. Something tells us that they are not listening and this is not going to work.
Fuel for solid fuel stoves. DEFRA has just published its intensions 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 1 May 2021. The legislation will need to be debated in both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force and the dates for these debates are yet to be confirmed. The details are here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/air-quality-using-cleaner-fuels-for-domestic-burning/outcome/summary-of-responses-and-government-response The Regulations will phase out the supply of traditional house coal for domestic combustion, wet wood sold in units of up to 2m3, and introduce sulphur and smoke emission limits for manufactured solid fuels.
These changes will be phased in between 2021 and 2023, with all sales of small volumes of wet wood being phased out by 2022 and sales of traditional house coal by 2023. Stoves or open fireplaces are not banned, and these policies do not seek to prevent their use or installation. Our intention is to ensure people move from burning more polluting to less polluting fuels. We are encouraging a move from burning wet wood to burning dry wood, and from traditional house coal to smokeless coal and low sulphur manufactured solid fuels.
CRT call in. There was a catch-up call with Matthew Symonds, Head of Boating, on 10 July. Brief notes are:
CRT annual boater reputation survey. This has been has been published. Boater overall satisfaction is still substantially below the 2017 figure, although slightly higher than last year. Pages 46-52 are worth reading and echo what NABO has been saying for several years now
The main themes emerging that are likely to have contributed negative aspects to the overall perceptions, include:
Emergency stoppages. There have been a few structure failures since lockdown has been removed. Members are recommended to sign up for CRT stoppages email if planning a cruise to keep on top of this. You might get a nasty surprise. The thoroughness of CRT’s inspection regime is an area of increasing concern.
Elected Reps video conference. Helen reports on this meeting which was held on 28th July. CRT’s Elected Reps (private boaters, boating business, volunteers, Friends, employees, fisheries) were invited to a Teams meeting with Matthew Symonds. A fuller report will be posted on the NABO website but here is a brief run-down of the topics discussed:
Boat Safety Scheme extensions. We understand that the suspension of BSS examinations up to end of July will not be further extended in most circumstances. 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. It is now expected that, if your BSS is due or overdue, you will get this organised in most circumstances. You should ring your chosen examiner and get a booking for the examination to be done. If you are shielding and cannot do this, then you must ring your navigation authority (NA) and talk to them. Otherwise if your licence is due or overdue, and you do nothing, it will not be renewed. If you are caught up in this and have a good or bad experience, please tell us so that we can understand what is happening. NAs are understandable nervous at having thousands of delayed examinations. We understand that the failure rate is 25% at the moment and, although this is not unusual, it is also attracting attention. If this does not improve, it is inevitable that the frequency of examinations will be increased as it demonstrates that boaters are not maintaining their boats. The most common failures at the moment are gas leaks, insecure batteries and wrong fire extinguishers.
Navigation Advisory Group. David Fletcher attended a phone-in vegetation meeting in July. CRT is preparing for a rebid of the vegetation contract. As part of the preparation they are updating the mowing maps. In the last NN we reported on this issue. Please get your comments into customer services. We had a first look at the winter offside cutting plans. Is your area overgrown? Please let us know.
The lockdown has been lifted and we hope that many of you are getting out to your boats and enjoying a new normal. We see many hire craft out, and hopefully these companies can get some business in the next few months. There are no face-to-face meetings planned, and only occasional zoom meetings. We are going boating whilst we can.
The next NABO Council will be a teleconference on Saturday 5 September at 10.15. Members are very welcome to take part. Please let us know so that we can make arrangements.
The next edition of NABO News will be prepared after the September meeting. Please get your items and lockdown stories in to the editor.
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