Chair, Stella Ridgway, meets the North West Regional Director.
I am going to offer apologies in advance – I have not been well – the downside of chronic kidney disease and renal failure is the body’s inability to shake off infections, and I have had one since late February. I managed to go to Council as it was in Manchester, but the Users’ Forum at the beginning of April was too far for me to travel.
I did meet with Daniel Greenhalgh, the new NW Regional Director (he kindly came to my boat so I didn’t have to travel), and we discussed NABO’s role with the Trust and how we can be a critical friend in assisting it. We discussed lack of facilities; there are no showers at all on the Macclesfield or Peak Forest canals. This may not seem important to some, but the ability to shower for longer than four minutes is a treat (do let me know if you can shower in less time) and to have the use of a washing machine for bulky items would be wonderful, particularly as laundrettes become fewer. We also discussed the transhipment sheds at both Whaley Bridge and Marple, and noticed that the Toll House was open in Marple last Saturday – unfortunately, only open when I was on dialysis, but the photos I saw looked good. The planning application for the wharf development at Marple was refused and I haven’t heard what the next steps will be, but I wish that the Trust would concentrate on looking for ways to engage not only the land-based community but the boating community as well. The transhipment sheds offer a unique opportunity to bring the two communities together and I hope that this is noted.
Warming climate and relationships?
Editor Peter Fellows detects changes that could affect boaters both negatively and positively.
It’s not yet summer and there are already boating restrictions in place because of damaged or failed infrastructure and low reservoirs, the latter following the lack of winter and spring rainfall after last year’s record-breaking dry summer. In the news section, I’ve listed a summary of restricted lock opening hours, as of the beginning of May, but it can’t be long before other canals with limited reservoir capacity follow suit. I know that UK weather is notoriously variable, but scientists say that climate heating is now a reality. CRT’s Hydrology Unit has plans to mitigate its effects on the waterways, but we should all be doing more individually, whether by supporting Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg’s kids’ campaign, or reducing our personal impact on the environment. Phasing out the use of gas and diesel will eventually happen and I believe navigation authorities should be planning now to provide facilities for all-electric boats, so that new craft can be built to this specification.
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?
Loss of facilities
The boaters’ facilities at Newbold on Avon on the North Oxford canal have closed and all ex-BWML marinas have now stopped offering free facilities to passing boaters. A statement from BWML Sawley Marina read: ‘Since BWML’s affiliation with The Trust is no longer, we aren’t obliged to provide facilities to passing boaters. However, we will be introducing a charge for cassette emptying, allowing passing boaters to still make use of facilities but at a cost of £2 per cassette. Please also be aware that our pump-out charge will be increased to £20 instead of £15. These charges will come into effect from 1st February 2019.’ NABO would like all members to report details of where you find facilities have disappeared. NABO supports the IWA stance on having a minimum distance between free facilities and would like to build a nationwide picture of the areas that are facilities deserts.