WC Surveys PR


Lack of cash could endanger the safety of all who use or live near our canals and rivers, a recent survey confirmed.


Two surveys by the National Association of Boat Owners (NABO), in association with the Residential Boat Owners Association (RBOA) and The Boating Association, show that experienced boaters who use the waterways feel that we should be seriously concerned at the state of the system.

Despite assurances from British Waterways (BW) Chief Executive, Robin Evans that ‘the network is now in better shape than at any time in decades’,  the majority of boaters disagreed and felt that the system had declined since last year.  In contrast they felt more positive about the waterways that are managed by other agencies.

They reported a lack of necessary maintenance by BW which created serious safety issues including worn lock spindles, boats caught on damaged brickwork in locks and shallow moorings which leave boaters jumping across stretches of water to reach unrepaired and badly maintained banks.  85% encountered broken equipment which endangers users and visitors.

The list of concerns reported to NABO also includes rubbish dumped in the waterways system, weeds blocking the canals, breaches and leaks threatening homes and businesses and 57% reported more badly damaged bridges.

More and more people are choosing to take their holidays in the UK and some of these ‘staycationers’ take to the waterways in search of a tranquil holiday.

Costs to boaters continue to increase well above inflation and the survey discovered that this causes concern to 85% of boaters and boating businesses.

NABO chairman, David Fletcher commented “This detailed survey of boaters shows the level of concern.  These people know what they are talking about; they have over 7,000 YEARS worth of boating experience. The people who run British Waterways have very little – there are no boat owners on the BW board. We hope the government will heed the warning that a lack of preventative maintenance is threatening the future of one of the UK’s most treasured resources. A £30 million annual underfunding cannot continue indefinitely without catastrophic consequences.”


For further information contact David Fletcher, NABO Chairman

Notes to Editors:
NABO, the National Association of Boat Owners, is a voluntary organisation which represents boat users on the UK inland waterways. For more information contact

RBOA, the Residential Boat Owners Association: http://rboa.org.uk
TBA, the Boating Association: http://www.theboatingassociation.co.uk

At the beginning of September, NABO sent  invitations to their own members and members of  RBOA (Residential Boat Owners Association), TBA (The Boating Association), IWA (Inland Waterways Association), DBA (The Barge Association) and SOW (Save Our Waterways), other waterway-related organisations and other boat owners and hirers through Internet forums and newsgroups. The surveys closed on November 15th 2009. There were two surveys; the Executive Summaries, full reports and presentations are available on the NABO website.

British Waterways is the government sponsored organisation with responsibility for caring for 2,200 miles of rivers and canals. The current ‘strategic steer’ sets out as top priority: “Maintaining the waterway network in satisfactory order.”
For more information see http://www.britishwaterways.co.uk

Other Agencies with responsibility for inland waterways include: