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.
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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:
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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General Document - Canal & River Trust