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Navigating and living on the waterways of Great Britain & Ireland and news of canal developments.
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TOPIC: Environment Agency Waterways transfer to the Canal and River Trust.

Environment Agency (EA) National Navigation Users Forum (NNUF) 13 Jun 2019 15:57 #106478

  • Andy Soper
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Environment Agency (EA) National Navigation Users Forum (NNUF)

I attended the NNUF meeting on 12 June at the Mothers Union headquarters in Westminster. It is currently an annual meeting but see below. Despite pleas from a number of attendees no papers were circulated in advance – just a mixture of verbal updates and presentations by EA.

Chaired by Robert Gould, a member of the EA Board, the main purpose was to provide an update on the significant changes taking place within EA in terms of support for their navigational responsibilities. The underlying driving factor was the Government’s decision not, at this stage, to go ahead with the proposal for CRT to take over EA’s navigational responsibilities.
The result has been a major re-organisation within the EA including the shifting of the navigation work into the Flood and Water Directorate, with a team headed by Andy Wilkinson (taking over from Mark Ormrod) with a brief to develop a 5-year business plan for 2020 to 2026, aimed at producing a sustainable navigation programme.
The overview of this work was presented by Alice Mayne, a newly recruited EA Deputy Director responsible for navigation & commercial activities. Key to this is that navigation is now an integral part of EA seeking to become commercially viable wherever possible – even if this will require changes to its legal basis. Thus there is a review of charging strategies, investigations into potential income generating schemes, exploration of possible local contributions and, of course, an in-depth assessment of all operational requirements and their funding all to be achieved in the next 5 years.
Of interest is that this review in being undertaken in harmony with other navigation authorities, including CRT – and clearly building on their experience. Thus there is, for example, a continuing study of all charging schemes, striving for consistency across all authorities. It is intended that this will result in a public consultation in spring 2020, for implementation in 2021.
Likewise there is a small but well-informed team looking into EA’s asset management – with objectives mirroring CRT’s in terms of adopting commercially-recognised standards etc. It was noted that additional funding had been made available to address immediately some of the most urgent needs – clearly this follows-on from CRT’s in-depth analysis of the asset-management challenges facing EA.
Finally Julian Kennard (Senior Navigation Adviser) gave an overview of some of the immediate national navigation issues and these included:
• The need to address DEFRA’s clean air strategy and the questions this raises relating to emissions and the impacts on boating in general.
• The updating of AINA’s Hire Boat Code with the objective of a target of 2021 for a public consultation.
• Issues relating to the changing use of the waterways for residential use
Although the Terms of Reference were on the Agenda for review EA had not brought a copy to the meeting. There was a general plea to have meetings more frequently than just annual.

This was a meeting largely with one-way information flow but valuable in terms of seeing EA’s short-term focus away from the possible merger into CRT of its navigational responsibilities, with a largely new team brought in to develop a strategy for sustainability.
After 5 years? Well, as one of the EA speakers said, maybe then it would be sensible for them to hand over to CRT!

Andy Soper
Director Representation
The following user(s) said Thank You: Peter Mossman, Rob Dean

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Best Wishes
Andy Soper
DBA Director Representation and Treasurer
mv Neeltje
Coookham
0044 (0) 303 666 0636

You don't need a barge to join - a dream of boating in Europe will do'. See www.barges.org

Environment Agency Waterways transfer to the Canal and River Trust. 05 Jun 2019 19:59 #106271

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From the EA:
Dear NNUF member
First of all I would like to introduce myself. I’m Andy Wilkinson and I have recently taken over from Mark Ormrod as the national manager for Navigation.
This message is coming to you jointly on behalf of the Environment Agency and Defra.
Over the last few years we have been considering the future management of the 1010km of navigable waterways in England covering the Anglian waterways, Upper Medway, non-tidal Thames, Wye and Rye Harbour. This has included considering a potential transfer from the Environment Agency to the Canal and River Trust for the management of these waterways.
The decision has been made not to transfer these inland waterways at this point in time. The Environment Agency will therefore continue to retain responsibility for these inland waterways and their assets. To support a sustainable future for these waterways, the Environment Agency will be developing a long term funding and business plan, and will be supporting the delivery of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.
We are very grateful for the time invested by local and national teams across the organisations who helped us explore this issue, and for the patience of staff, users, and yourselves in partner organisations.
There will be an opportunity to discuss this decision and what it means going forwards at the National Navigation Users Forum meeting next week.
I look forward to meeting you there.

Kind regards,
Andy
Andy Wilkinson
National Navigation Manager
Navigation and Commercial Development, Future Funding, Environment & Business

This is intended as re-assurance to staff that their future is secure within EA - the phrase - 'at this point in time' rather misses the point and weakens the message. I will be listening carefully at the meeting next week!
The following user(s) said Thank You: Paul Hayes, Tim Hackett, Tim Crew

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Best Wishes
Andy Soper
DBA Director Representation and Treasurer
mv Neeltje
Coookham
0044 (0) 303 666 0636

You don't need a barge to join - a dream of boating in Europe will do'. See www.barges.org
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