government's urban and rural regeneration drive, deputy prime
minister John Prescott revealed today.
He said the national system of canals and navigable rivers could make
deprivation by acting as a catalyst for economic and social renewal.
Launching 'Waterways for Tomorrow', a new policy vision for our
inland waterways, Mr Prescott said that improving and restoring
canals and rivers, and redeveloping disused and derelict waterside
land could help to deliver the government's target for development on
brownfield sites as well as creating jobs and business opportunities.
Mr Prescott said:
'This policy is good news for the environment, for rural and urban
communities and for the economy. Already there are many good-practice
examples of urban regeneration, such as the mixed-use developments
being carried out in Leeds and at Paddington Basin in London,
bringing jobs, housing, tourism and enhanced leisure facilities.
'Waterways for Tomorrow' encourages a greater and more innovative use
of the waterways. It also promotes partnerships between the bodies
who manage the waterways and all sectors of society - local
communities, Government agencies, the private sector - to develop the
waterways and bring in investment.
The document highlights imaginative projects such as the
soon-to-be-expanded 'Fibreway' fibre-optic data network; and the
'Water Grid' which would use canals to move water from one part of
the country to another. These projects will generate much needed
income to plough back into the maintenance and improvement of the
Mr Prescott continued:
'British Waterways is already making good progress in unlocking the
potential of its waterways, forming innovative partnerships with the
'But I want to see more done by all navigation authorities. That is
why I am asking local authorities and regional development agencies
to play their part by ensuring that they take account of waterways in
their regeneration plans and support worthwhile projects for their
improvement, development and restoration.
'Our inland waterways are one of our most important national assets.
We value them not only for their heritage, but because they improve
the quality of the environment and people's lives. By revitalising
the waterways, we can deliver real benefits to the environment, to
local communities and to businesses'
'Waterways for Tomorrow' sets out the government's plans for the
Recreation, leisure and tourism - greater recreational use and
enhanced access to the waterways for all, especially the young,
disabled and disadvantaged.
Benefits to the environment - new waterside development should
respect, conserve and enhance the waterways and their built and
natural heritage. The government supports action plans to conserve
and enhance biodiversityand encourages navigation authorities to
provide/promote facilities for electric boats where practical and
Planning Guidance - New guidance will be produced, so that road and
bridge building does not hinder future waterway restoration; the
government will also continue to review each PPG so that the planning
system encourages the development of the inland waterways; the Inland
Waterways Amenity Advisory Council will prepare good practice
guidance, with examples of good planning;
Freight - transfer of freight from road to waterway is encouraged
whenever practical and the government will consider extending the
Freight Facilities Grant scheme for capital projects; it will also
consider allowing grants for non-capital projects for the first time;
in addition, a Freight Study Group will be set up to examine options
for the increased transfer of freight to the waterways.
Public/Public Partnerships - formal plans by British Waterways and
the Environment Agency to work even more closely together are
welcomed and all navigation authorities are encouraged to work
closely together, and with regional development agencies and local
authorities to improve the system. RDAs are also asked to consider
waterways in their strategies and to support waterways projects;
Public/Private Partnerships - private partnership is an important way
to generate income. The PPPs being taken forward by British Waterways
will bring in new investment and help the waterways to achieve their
Public/Voluntary Partnerships - Involving the general public in the
waterways is crucial and the creation of The Waterways Trust as a
charitable trust to promote our waterways and raise funds for
restoration, is welcomed; British Waterways' proposal that the Trust
set up a new subscription service to provide information about the
waterways is endorsed;
1. John Prescott launched 'Waterways for Tomorrow' at Willowtree
Marina in West London, a former wharf serving a clay pit which has
been developed into a thriving mixed-use site in a public-private
partnership between Laing Homes Ltd, Hillingdon LBC,
British Waterways and Willowtree Marine Ltd. The site supports
local businesses, including a popular waterside cafe-bar and
family housing, as well as being home to many leisure craft.
2. 'Waterways for Tomorrow' follows up the White Paper A New Deal
for Transport; Better for Everyone (which was published in July
1998), by setting out proposals for the future of our inland
3. 'Waterways for Tomorrow' is mainly about the canals and
navigable rivers which make up the bulk of the inalnd waterways
but it also covers other kinds of inland waterways such as the
Broads. It concentrates on the non tidal waterways but much of its
contents apply also to tidal waterways.
4. There are approximately 5,090 kms (3,160 miles) of fully
navigable inland waterways in England and Wales about 445 kms of
which are tidal. British Waterways is responsible for about 2,615
kms, about 75% of which comprises canals. The Environment Agency
is responsible for about 875 kms, nearly all navigable rivers. The
Broads Authority is responsible for 160 kms. Of the remaining
1,440 kms, 1335 kms are managed by a wide range of other bodies
and 105 kms have no management authority.
5. In addition there are about 890 kms of managed unnavigable
waterways, about 480 kms of which are the responsibility of the
three largest bodies (British Waterways - 320 km, Environment
Agency - 120 km and Broads Authority - 40 km). There are a further
2,095 kms of abandoned unnavigable waterways. Many unnavigable and
abandoned waterways are being restored to full navigation.
6. The Scottish Executive will consider whether to issue a
separate document covering the inland waterways of Scotland.