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Britain's inland waterways are set to play a major role in the ...
Britain's inland waterways are set to play a major role in the

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

a significant contribution to tackling social exclusion and

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

private sector.

'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

waterways including:

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

full potential.

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.

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