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SPEED LIMIT TO END POWER BOATING ON LAKE WINDERMERE

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Water skiers and jetski enthusiasts are to be banned from the Lake District national park after the government appr...
Water skiers and jetski enthusiasts are to be banned from the Lake District national park after the government approved a council bylaw which imposed a 10mph speed limit on Windermere.

The Guardian (p6) reports that the decision concludes an eight-year battle between environmentalists, local residents, national park authorities, sport enthusiasts and businesses.

The spat has involved a 13-week public inquiry with 3,000 written representations, a controversial decision by the then Conservative environment secretary, John Gummer, to reject the recommendations, a high court appeal and a review by the department of the environment.

Chris Mullin, the environment minister who approved the law, said: 'I can understand that it will disappoint those who will no longer be able to enjoy the lake in power boats or on skis, and it will cause concern to some business. But I am satisfied the speed limit is justified.'

Windermere is the only lake in the national park where power boats are still allowed.

A press release from the DETR follows.

SPEED LIMIT WILL IMPROVE ENJOYMENT OF LAKE WINDERMERE - MULLIN

The days of power boats, and other fast motorised vessels, spoiling

the enjoyment of people on Lake Windermere are numbered, environment

minister Chris Mullin said yesterday as he approved a 10 miles per hour speed limit on the Lake. The decision will end long-standing

conflict, Mr Mullin explained. The limit will come into effect in

March 2005.

Mr Mullin said:

'This case has been running now for over seven years and it was time

it was brought to a conclusion. After the last government's decision

not to confirm the byelaws was quashed by the high court, we invited

further representations and considered all the evidence before

reaching this decision.

'I can understand it will disappoint those who will no longer be able

to enjoy the Lake in power boats or on skis, and it will cause

concern to some businesses. But I am satisfied that the speed limit

is justified and will bring benefits to very many people. I agree

with the conclusion of the Inspector who conducted a long inquiry

into the proposals in 1994/5 that power boating is fundamentally

incompatible with other uses of the lake'.

NOTES

1. In July 1992, the Lake District Special Planning Board (now the

Lake District National Park Authority) made the Windermere

(Amendment) (No.2) Byelaws 1992.

Effect of the byelaws

2. The principal effect of the byelaws - made by the Lake District

National Park Authority - is to impose a speed limit of 10 mph on

power-driven vessels on the Lake, except for those relatively small

areas where a 6mph limit already applies. The speed limit will come

into effect in March 2005. That will end high-speed power-boating and

water-skiing on Windermere.

History of the case

3. The byelaws were made under section 13 of the Countryside Act

1968. Before byelaws under that Act take effect they need to be

confirmed by the Secretary of State. At the time the byelaws were

originally considered, there were objections and a public inquiry was

held.

4. At the 48-day inquiry there was considerable support for the

byelaws and, when the inspector submitted his report in February

1996, he recommended that the byelaws should be confirmed. The then

Secretary of State disagreed and decided in August 1996 not to

confirm the byelaws.

5. The Lake District Special Planning Board sought judicial review

of the Secretary of State's decision in November 1996. The main

ground of challenge was the inadequacy of the reasons given for the

decision. The High Court agreed with the Special Planning Board and

quashed the decision not to confirm the byelaws on 26 November 1997.

6. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

subsequently invited further representations from interested parties.

Today's decision was made on the basis of those further

representations and the previous evidence. A copy of the decision

letter is attached.

Press Enquiries: 020 7944 3041; out of hours: 020 7944 5925 or 5945

Public Enquiries Unit: 020 7944 3000 Web Site: http://www.detr.gov.uk

FROM CHRIS MULLIN MP

PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE

DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

ELAND HOUSE

BRESSENDEN PLACE

LONDON SW1E 5DU

TEL: 0171 890 3015

FAX: 0171 890 4359

29 February 2000

C J Chapman Esq

Solicitor

Lake District National Park Authority

Murley Moss

Oxenholme Road

Kendal

Cumbria

LA9 7RL

Dear Mr Chapman,

WINDERMERE NAVIGATION (AMENDMENT) (NO 2) BYELAWS 1992

1. I am directed by the Secretary of State for the Environment to

inform you that I have decided to confirm the byelaws relating to

Lake Windermere made by the Lake District National Park Authority

('the LDNPA'), formerly the Lake District Special Planning Board,

under section 13 of the Countryside Act 1968 on 7 July 1992. I am

returning the byelaws, which have now been confirmed.

2. The byelaws will amend and qualify the extant Windermere

Navigation Byelaws 1986. Their principal practical effect is to

impose, in respect of the whole surface of the lake except for those

relatively small areas where a 6 mph speed limit already applies, a

speed limit for power-driven vessels of 10 mph at all times, to take

effect after the expiry of a period of five years from the coming

into operation of the new byelaws. The byelaws will come into

operation on 29 March 2000 and the new speed limit will take effect

on 29 March 2005.

3. I have carefully considered the report of 12 February 1996 of the

public local inquiry into the byelaws, which was established under

section 250(1) of the Local Government Act 1972 and conducted by Mr.

Alun Aylesbury. Mr. Aylesbury concluded that the byelaws should be

confirmed, subject to an exception to allow Records Week to continue.

The previous Secretary of State did not accept the Inspector's

recommendation and decided against confirming the byelaws. This

decision was successfully challenged by the LDNPA and the byelaws

were returned to the Secretary of State for redetermination. The

Secretary of State invited further views on whether the byelaws

should be confirmed.

4. Windermere is one of the few significant areas of non-tidal

water in England with a public right of navigation. As such, the lake

is available (subject to boat registration fees, etc.) to the boating

public at large and can currently be used, without general

registration, for a wide range of water-based recreation. It was

accepted at the inquiry, by the LDNPA, the supporters of the byelaws

and the objectors, that the effect of the byelaws, if confirmed,

would be to cause fast power boating to cease on Windermere, together

with associated activities, of which water-skiing was the most

popular.

5. The Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. John Prescott MP, the

Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions,

has taken no part in this decision, because he commented earlier on

conditions on the lake. He has authorised me, as the Parliamentary

Under Secretary of State, to make the decision on his behalf.

Current Government policy

6. The Inspector set out the current Government policy at IR 9.20

onwards. The inquiry was able to take account of the Environment Bill

1994, which subsequently became the Environment Act 1995 without

material changes relevant to this case. Section 61 of the Act

restated the twin purposes of National Parks as:

a) conserving and enhancing [their] natural beauty, wildlife and

cultural heritage; and

b) promoting opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of

[their] special qualities by the public.

If it appears that there is conflict between these two purposes,

the National Park Authority is expected to give greater weight to the

first. National Park Authorities are also required to 'seek to foster

the economic and social well-being of [their] local communities.'

7. Since the Inspector reported, the policy background has not

changed significantly. DOE Circular 12/96, 'Environment Act 1995,

Part III, National Parks' dealt with the implementation of the Act.

Paragraphs 13 and 14 are particularly relevant:

'13. The National Park Authorities should continue to promote the

widest range of opportunities for recreation to reflect the variety

of ways in which the Parks can be enjoyed. But the conservation

values which the Parks represent and which have led to so many

appreciating their special qualities must be fully respected. The

National Park Authorities will need to take into account the Parks'

limited environmental capacity. It will not be appropriate for all

forms of recreation to take place in every part of the Parks and the

Government accepts that some recreational activities could cause

unacceptable damage or disturbance to their natural beauty, wildlife

or cultural heritage. The intrusive nature of some recreational

activities or the damage they cause to conservation interests may

unacceptably affect other people's understanding and enjoyment of the

Parks.

14. Nevertheless the Government does not accept that particular

activities should be excluded from throughout the Parks as a matter

of principle. They contain a variety of landscapes, capable of

accepting and absorbing many different types of leisure activity. In

most instances, it should be possible to reconcile any conflict which

may arise by co-operation between relevant interests and the National

Park Authorities and through careful planning and positive management

strategies.'

Main issues - inquiry

8. The Inspector's overriding conclusion (I.R 9.62) was that there

was a fundamental problem of incompatibility, in the confined area of

the lake, between water-skiing and high speed power boating and other

legitimate and lower key forms of water-based recreation. The

problem was worse in crowded conditions but there was an inherent

conflict at all times when the two categories of use were occurring.

I agree with this conclusion on the evidence put to the Inspector.

Alternatives to the proposed byelaws

9. Management Plan - The Inspector concluded, and I agree, that the

Alternative Management Plan put to the inquiry did not address the

central problem, which was the inherent incompatibility in a confined

area between, on the one hand, speedboating (including water-skiing)

and almost all the other reasonable recreational uses of the lake.

10. Temporal and spatial zoning - The Inspector concluded and

rejected (IR 9.191 - 9.201 and 9.64 - 9.67) the concepts of spatial

or temporal 'zoning'. The Inspector concluded, and I agree, that

spatial zoning - to create an area where the speed limit would not

apply - would not be desirable or readily workable. Because there is

a general right of navigation on Windermere, spatial zoning for water

sports could not exclude other activities, unless there was a change

in the legislation covering the lake. A small derestricted zone would

become extremely crowded and unsafe, while a large one would make

little difference to current conditions Temporal zoning would allow

navigation at high speeds at certain times. The Inspector considered,

and I agree, that temporal zoning would still lead to conflict and to

noise problems. 'Open' periods which were attractive to power boats

would be likely to be attractive to other users too.

11. Single statutory authority - The Inspector considered (IR 9.187

- 9.190) the suggestion of a single statutory authority with specific

responsibility for control over the Lake. The Inspector stated, and I

agree, that nothing raised at the inquiry convinced him that there

should be a change in the present state of control of the lake.

Records Week

12. The Inspector recommended that an exception from the byelaws

should be granted for Records Week (I.R 9.215). However, I have no

power to amend the byelaws and the LDNPA have not proposed new draft

byelaws which would make this exception. I have therefore had to

consider whether or not to confirm the draft byelaws as they stand. I

consider that overall the benefit of introduction of the byelaws

would outweigh the fact that Records Week would not be able to take

place once the speed limit came into effect. It may be noted that, in

the period before the byelaws come into effect, it would be open to

the organisers of Records Week to seek to persuade the LDNPA to

introduce an amendment to the byelaws to enable an exception to be

made to preserve Records Week.

Effect on local economy

13. The Inspector considered that the strong need for the speed

limit had to be balanced against possible limited economic disruption

(I.R 9.166). He found the overall balance clearly in favour of

confirmation of the byelaws. I agree with this conclusion. It is

difficult to predict what the economic conditions will be when the

speed limit comes into effect because that will not be for five years

from the coming into operation of these byelaws. It is possible that

the tourist profile in the region may alter as a result of the

byelaws but it is not clear whether this will result in a net

economic loss or a gain. More people may be attracted to engage in

water-based recreational activities other than fast power boating

(including water-skiing) on a quieter Windermere, and other

businesses (such as activity-centred holidays) could develop.

Businesses have already had several years' notice of the likelihood

of such a change, and will have a further five year period from the

coming into effect of the byelaws, to prepare for the withdrawal of

the fast power boat market from the area.

Loss of facilities

14. The Inspector looked at the consequences in terms of

alternative sites for power boat racing, recreational fast power

boating, water-skiing and disabled skiing (I.R 9.116 - 9.140). I have

also taken into consideration Sport England's subsequent

representations, which refer to a reduction in the opportunities for

motorised water sports in the UK since 1995. However, there is no

reason why the Lake District should be expected to accommodate every

recreational activity for which there is demand. Since the Three

Lakes Inquiry in 1976 recommended that Lake Windermere could continue

to be used for motorised water sports, the lake has become very much

more crowded and the Inspector was entitled to find that power

boating is no longer a suitable activity in that environment.

Wash, noise and environmental effect

15. The Inspector considered the consequences of wash, noise and

the environmental effect (I.R 9.68 - 9.101). He concluded, and I

agree, that noise reduction in itself is not one of the main

justifications for the speed limit. The Inspector concluded, and I

agree, that apart from its contribution to the generally intimidating

character of the lake, particularly at busy times, the phenomenon of

'high speed wash' did not point unequivocally to one solution or

another interms of the debate about the speed limit. The Inspector

was informed that the water in Windermere has consistently been found

to be of a high standard and I agree with his conclusion that, on the

evidence, pollution was not a significant factor in the decision

whether or not to confirm the byelaws. The Inspector also concluded,

and I agree, that wildlife issues were not a significant factor in

the decision to be made on the speed limit.

Material considerations arising since the inquiry

16. A large number of representations were received after the

inquiry. However, very few raised significant new issues. The

reduction in alternative sites has already been mentioned in

paragraph 14 above. Other material points raised are considered in

the following paragraphs.

Use of the lake

17. The English Sports Council (now Sport England) submitted the

Windermere Lake Patrol Joint Annual Reports for 1995, 1996 and 1997.

These contained information on conditions on the lake since the

inquiry. They showed that since 1992 there had been some reduction in

the number of 'incidents', although the downward trend slowed between

1994 and 1996, with an increase in 1997. Powered craft are in a

minority on the lake, but were involved in 70 out of 152 boating

incidents in that year. Further, the 1997 report said that lake usage

increased throughout the year, with personal watercraft activity and

the use of large motor cruisers increasing dramatically. The average

size of moored vessels was increasing.

18. Having considered these reports carefully, I have concluded

that conditions on the lake have not improved significantly since the

Inspector examined them.

Alternative Management Plan and Indicative Draft Byelaws

19. Careful consideration has been given to the revised Alternative

Management Plan ('the revised AMP'), which was prepared by Sport

England, the Royal Yachting Association, the British Water Ski

Federation and the Windermere Commercial Lake Users' Group, and the

Indicative Draft Byelaws prepared by the Royal Yachting Association.

The Indicative Draft Byelaws were prepared to demonstrate how the

main provisions of the revised AMP could be given legal effect. The

revised AMP was not intended to be a definitive solution but sought

to illustrate the scope for management on the lake.

20. The revised AMP contained some of the same elements as the

Alternative Management Plan considered by the Inspector. For example,

only licensed boats and drivers would be allowed to travel at high

speed on the lake and there would be a Code of Conduct. Additional

proposals included the introduction of a booking system to limit the

number of boats allowed to exceed the speed limit to 200 at any one

time between April and November. At Bank Holidays in this period the

speed limit would be allowed to be exceeded only in the early morning

and between 17.00 and sunset. There would also be a Lake Master and

an advisory Motorised Water Sports Forum.

LDNPA's response to the revised AMP

21. All relevant representations, including the revised AMP, were

circulated to all parties for comment. The LDNPA made a number of

criticisms of the proposals. Some of the Authority's objections were

practical - they were concerned, for example, about whether the

proposals could be effectively enforced and about the cost of

enforcing any management plan. They also expressed doubts about the

legality of imposing a charge for booking a 'slot' on the lake.

22. The LDNPA also criticised the principles underlying the proposals

in the revised AMP. They suggested, for example, that the Plan was

unlikely to result in a fair allocation of the right to exceed the

speed limit. Further, they suggested that the emergence of a minority

group of users enjoying privileged access at the expense of the

enjoyment of the majority of users would create a regrettable

precedent, at odds with the philosophy of the National Park movement.

The LDNPA suggested the main thrust of the English Sports Council's

statement seemed to be that power boats should take precedence over

other activities, which could go to other lakes in the National Park.

Representations received regarding the LDNPA's response

23. Sport England and the other proponents of the revised AMP did

not accept the LDNPA's criticisms. They submitted independent

Counsel's advice on the legality of the charging proposals and

suggested that the initial costs of the new system might be paid for

from one of the Lottery Good Causes. They pointed out that the

revised AMP proposed a maximum figure of 200 for the number of boats

able to travel at more than 10mph at any one time because this was

the figure Lake Wardens had indicated, in informal discussions, that

they regarded as reasonable and manageable. In practice, fewer boats

would be travelling at this speed at any one time because of rest

periods and other periods of inactivity during a 'slot'. Other points

made clarified how the revised AMP could be implemented and enforced,

rebutting the LDNPA's detailed criticisms.

Comments on the revised AMP

24. I have considered carefully the revised AMP, the Indicative Draft

Byelaws and the representations received about them. I have reached

no conclusions on the points made about the enforceability and

legality of the proposals because of the need to address first the

central issue. This is whether or not the revised AMP would solve the

fundamental problem identified by the Inspector of the

incompatibility between power boating and other uses. I have

concluded that it would not do so: the presence of up to 200 fast

power boats on the lake would continue to be a significant deterrent

to 'lower key' recreational users at times when it is likely they

also would desire to use the lake. Given the thought which has been

given to addressing the issues on all sides, but without a

satisfactory alternative solution being put forward, I have also

concluded that the conflict of uses on Lake Windermere is not one

which is likely to be reconciled by co-operation and through careful

planning and management strategies. Para 14 of DOE Circular 12/96

(paragraph 7 refers) recognises that such an approach will only work

in most, not all, instances. I do not consider that I should refuse

to confirm the byelaws on the grounds that the revised AMP has been

put forward by objectors.

Lake Wardens

25. Representations have been received stating that the South

Lakeland District Council should have allowed the Lake Wardens (who

are employed by them) to give evidence at the inquiry. I agree with

the Inspector's conclusion (I.R 5.2.4) on the question of the Lake

Wardens' non-attendance. The Inspector was well aware that there were

differing views about conditions on the lake and took these into

account before deciding that speeds in excess of 10 mph were not

compatible with water-based recreational uses, apart from power

boating, water-skiing and the like. Subsequent to the inquiry, a

sworn statement from one of the former Lake Wardens (Mr Quartermaine)

was provided by Sport England and copied to all interested parties.

Mr Quartermaine stated that in his view Lake Windermere is a lake

upon which water-skiing and power boating in excess of 10 mph can be

permitted and accommodated. However, this evidence does not seem to

me to add significantly to the views considered by the Inspector. I

agree with his conclusions that speeds in excess of 10 mph are not

compatible with 'lower key' recreational uses.

LDNPA involvement in discussions.

26. Representations have also been received stating that the LDNPA

should have entered into discussions with the Windermere Commercial

Lake Users' Group and others to discuss the revised AMP. The

previous Secretary of State expressed the wish that the parties

concerned should explore, more extensively than they had done before,

ways in which management arrangements might be worked up to enable

the various activities on the lake to continue to co-exist. However,

I recognise that power boating on Lake Windermere has been a problem

for many years and there has been extensive public debate involving

the LDNPA over a long period. Between 1976 (when a previous inquiry

decided, after much deliberation, that it might continue) and 1991,

there was a threefold increase in power boating. The LDNPA made the

byelaws in 1992 only after the problems had been under discussion for

a number of years and speed limits had been considered.

No power to impose an alternative solution

27. I have no power either to impose a management solution or to

amend the byelaws to incorporate any alternative option. I can only

confirm or refuse to confirm the byelaws. In any event, no other

satisfactory way of reconciling the conflicts on the lake has been

proposed and I do not consider that there is any reasonable prospect

of such reconciliation being achieved. Therefore I have confirmed the

byelaws.

Conclusions

28. I have had to consider whether or not to confirm the byelaws in

the knowledge that confirmation of them would, in practice, prevent

use of the lake for power boating and water-skiing. Balancing the

interests of one group of users against the conflicting interests of

a larger group of users wishing to use the lake for other forms of

water-based recreational activities, I have concluded that the

interests of the latter should prevail. I note that, by providing a

five year lapse before the new speed limit would come into effect, a

period is allowed for businesses and people who engage in power

boating and water skiing to make alternative arrangements and adjust

their expectations accordingly. Taking into account all the evidence,

I consider the speed limit which would be imposed by the byelaws

would be reasonable and effective.

29. In summary, having taken all representations into

consideration, I agree with the Inspector's recommendation. I have

therefore confirmed the byelaws. They will come into operation on the

29 March and the speed limit will come into effect five years later.

30. I am sending a copy of this letter to all those who submitted

written representations, together with a copy of the Inspector's

report to those who also gave evidence at the inquiry.

31. A copy of the Inspector's report can be obtained by contacting

the Countryside Division, Room 916, Tollgate House, Houlton Street,

Bristol BS2 9DJ. Alternatively, a copy of the Inspector's report and

this decision letter can be obtained from our website at

www.detr.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely,

CHRIS MULLIN

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