WATERWAY FORUM Q&A AUTUMN 2014 Q1/ Due to the increase of continuous cruisers are you going to add more rubbish and elsan disposal points or do you expect the trade to swallow the cost of this? We are continually reviewing the frequencies of collections at our sites and have increased the frequency of collection where required. Nationally the provision of facilities is also being reviewed to set the expected frequency of boater facilities and look at the affordability in order that projects can be identified for the future. We are certainly not expecting anyone else to pick up the costs. Q2/ With regard to Conservation status of the canal system, what does this actually mean, what width does it cover either side of canal, also, what protection and statutory weight does it have, particularly in areas which also have conservation status (does it mean it has double protection)? Does C&RT have influence over District Councils and planning decisions? These are designated by Councils, not CRT, although we welcome this formal recognition of the Canals’ historic importance. We have maps on our internal GIS (Geographic Information System) system, but these are not currently available to the public. Your local Council will however have the most up to date information and can supply data on request on the conservation areas within their area. The Conservation Area requires us to consult with the Local Authority on works to be undertaken and gain consent for items such as tree removal prior to works commencing. The Trust is consulted prior to the Canal being designated as conservation area, but the decision is made by the Local Authority. Q3/Many hedges across the network are now beyond reasonable control. They are overgrown, too high and too wide. The annual cutting cycle has been poorly monitored and this has allowed the hedges to reach their current state. Hedges should be reduced across the waterway network to 1.5mtrs. They must be reduced in width to allow the easy access to the towpath by walkers and cyclists, runners. The state of the hedges are nothing less than abysmal. They are too wide and too high, having been poorly monitored over the past 6-8 years and now need a detailed and worthy plan to be implemented to cut back the hedgerows. Where are the boater’s views? It is nothing less than very boring and monotonous when cruising!!…I would like to see a detailed and proper hedge cutting plan, effectively monitored and in place within the near future. When is this going to happen or we are to be forced into the canal when out walking running by being ‘spiked’ by hawthorn and brambles!?…… I have some really good photos from the 80’s when hedges were neat and tidy. Page 2 of 5 The priority for the waterway is always safety and for this reason hedge management has been viewed as less vital however we recognise that hedge cutting needs to be better funded for next season so that we can resource the heavy cutting that is now required. Furthermore we are identifying hedges that are suitable for hedge laying. The hedge cutting plan is being compiled on our GIS mapping system at the moment to ensure accurate service information when works commence in November. Our current hedge cutting data is old and has become out of date and will be updated shortly. The winter works plan will now be available but does not include the hedge data as we are still waiting for the GIS layer to be compiled before the hedge data is readily available. We do however need to be mindful of the costs related to these works. Comments from the Navigation Advisor Group are that they would rather we spent money in other areas than hedge topping. Access is also of concern and we can no longer use compact tractors on the majority of our network following the terrible fatality on the Kennet and Avon Waterway. This means that a lot of the work is undertaken by hand and this limits what can be achieved. Q4/On my recent (end August / early September) trip which included the Leicester Line south of Welford, I was appalled by the state of overgrown vegetation on both the towpath side and offside of the canal between Welford and Crick. In several places the already narrow canal has been reduced to single file, and in others the vegetation is severely restricting visibility especially round bends. With the inevitable increase in usage of this section of canal due to the recent marina at Yelvertoft (together with its proposed extension) and the one under construction at North Kilworth, could you please ask when CRT intend to rectify the situation? Could CRT outline the work programme for the Northampton Arm during the forthcoming stoppage season after the navigation feedback that was given by boaters during the summer and the trip up and down the arm by working boat n/b Aldgate with a CRT engineer in attendance in July. Offside vegetation is undertaken on a cyclic basis. We had originally envisaged that the programme would take three years to cover the entire Waterway based upon the fact that the works can only be undertaken from the water and for environmental reasons, only be undertaken between November and February. The original cycle took 5 years and this has now been completed, we are now starting the repeat works and currently have five boats planned to undertake offside works as follows: South Oxford Canal commencing at Dukes Cut working north. Grand Union Leicester Section, commencing at Norton Junction which will address the section raised Market Harborough working towards Foxton and then North Aylesbury Arm, Wendover Arm, Tring Summit and South at Aspley Northampton Arm Commencing January 2014 following the stoppage works. Then south on the Grand Union to address issues at Blisworth Tunnel. Page 3 of 5 The Northampton Works include reed cutting, offside cutting and in some locations towing path cutting. The plan is still being compiled as these works are not due to start until after Christmas, but will include all areas identified on the trip in July. Q5/What, if any, procedures are there to permit CRT employees to require a boat owner to move his/her boat immediately or to permit CRT employees to move immediately a boat that has been moored in an unsuitable place e.g. lock landing in such a way that it causing a Health and Safety Issue / danger to other boaters? If a boat was causing an obstruction and is a hazard to other craft we can use our powers under section 8(5) of 1983 British Waterways Act. Following serving of the notice this allows us to move the craft immediately to the next available space where it is no longer creating an obstruction. This is a final resort and our preference is always to contact the owner in the first instance and ask them to move the craft. Q6/At a user group meeting on 24th October 2013 Jeff Whyatt stated that major work on South Oxfordshire lift bridges would be carried out in 2014/2015. Following recent collapse of Caravan Lift bridge No 215 will work to other lift bridges in the same state of disrepair become a priority. A project is included within the major works programme for the current financial year. Works will be carried out to other bridges. Bridge 215 was due to have works carried out on it this financial year but it’s failure has resulted in us having to review which bridges we will be carrying work out on this year as our priority is to prevent any of the other bridges failing. At present we are reviewing the results of underwater surveys that have taken place to ensure that the money that is available is prioritised and spent in the most effective way. Q7/ We have had no information from CRT on possible effects on fishing from the development of the Jerico Boat yard? The Trust is aware of the need to protect all water space, fish included, from pollution caused by wind blow, spillage or contamination during building works and once the development is in operation, to protect the ecology of the canal. We will be making the council aware of the need for this by way of requesting conditions be placed on the decision notice, if planning permission is forthcoming. Such matters as pollution caused by the boatyard, once that is operational will be covered by its license. If planning permission is granted it will be advertised on the council webpage http://www.oxford.gov.uk/PageRender/decP/Planning.htm if you have any concerns regarding the development please contact [email protected] Q8A/What checks do Canal & River Trust make to ensure holders of Trade Licenses are legitimately trading? We have now seen two boats selling home brewed alcoholic products and cannot believe that they are properly declaring the quantities produced for sale to HMRC as the retail prices are so low. Page 4 of 5 All business licence holders agree to abide by our Terms and Conditions for Business Boat Licences. This includes the requirement (para 11.2) to comply with any legislation relevant to the business operation (for example, food hygiene regulations, licence to sell alcohol). If you have a concern that a trader is falling short of its obligations to HMRC, Trading Standards or any other regulator, then you should report your concern to the regulator with the statutory responsibility for the issue that you are concerned about. If you suspect that a boat is trading without a CRT Business Boating licence, then please do get in touch with one of our Business Boating Team (see https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/boating-businesses/business-boating-team-contacts). Q8B/We were also informed that a lot of live-aboard boaters were obtaining trade licenses to ensure a supply of tax free fuel when we last filled Jannock up. We are not aware of this. It is up to each individual boater to make a declaration when purchasing fuel as to what the fuel is used for. We have not experienced a dramatic increase in the number of trade licences being applied for and so feel that it is unlikely that this practice is widespread. Q9/ Why have the vegetation management contractors started leaving large swathes of un-cut growth between the towpath and the edge of the canal at non restricted mooring locations? Being a weekend boater who relies on 14 day moorings to extend our annual cruising range we have encountered many instances of needing to cut a gap through a forest in order to moor our boat. The contractors cut the grass to differing specifications, you will notice in the more rural locations the marginal growth is left to grow (within a given specification) for the growing season, in other more well used areas the grass is cut to the water’s edge. When the vegetation contract was put together is we consulted with our stakeholders and representative users along with our own environmental teams to establish the regimes. It is important we retain a margin of vegetation to encourage wild flowers and wildlife bio diversity. The measures Canal & River Trust take to provide mooring is to ensure mooring windows are cut in appropriate areas outside of designated mooring sites. Once a year all the grass is cut to water’s edge including the marginal vegetation, this cut is performed between October and the middle of November and provides winter mooring across the waterway until the growth returns in the spring. Q10/ What is been done about all the saplings that are taking route in the towpath edgings piling & stone work? Generally the woody saplings on the towpath edge are removed on the annual edge to edge grass cut. And this is to be specified by the contract manager. The larger saplings again are specified and dealt with specifically and according to budget, in the SE we have chosen to process the larger saplings as the boat crews perform the offside works. The offside saplings have not been prioritised within the business plan unless they appear on the high priority tree works list from the most recent survey. Page 5 of 5 Q11/ When will monies be spent on maintenance at Leighton Buzzard the toilet block, Bollards, notices all need attention as do the overhanging trees over the boats near to Tesco! The boaters pay for their moorings, and complain about the leaves and sap falling on their boats. Trees are surveyed routinely to determine high risk tree works for the winter season. Unfortunately we do not prioritise crown reduction works on healthy stock to elevate leaf drop or shade. Capital expenditure on boater facilities is a priority for the coming year and the site at Leighton Buzzard will be reviewed and works identified as appropriate for submission within the business plan for 2015/16.