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London Boaters’ Update - March 2022

Hello and welcome to another issue of London Boaters’ Update. Keep reading for all your March news from the waterways of London.

2D grpahic of a canal, towpath and a boat with people

In this issue you will find:

  • Hertford Union Canal open days' success
  • Update on the London Mooring Strategy
  • Our response to Storm Eunice
  • Docklands visitors
  • Comic Relief success on our canals
  • Air Quality Mission Statement
  • Known works/closures

Hertford Union Canal open days' success

Man holding a large fish

Our open days at the Hertford Union Canal were a great success, and we were happy to see so many folks there. Essential repair works have been underway for several months, and the waterway is almost ready to reopen again. Find more details here.

Whenever we dredge a waterway, we always expect to find some surprises turning up at the bottom of the canal, and the HUC is no different. Amongst the items found during the dredging were a gun, and several large fish, weighing in altogether at 259lb.

Update on the London Mooring Strategy

Moored boats on London's waterways

This month we've begun installing new mooring rings over approximately 1km of general towpath on the Limehouse Cut and sections of the Regent's Canal. On the Limehouse Cut some areas have high freeboard, so we will also be installing new signage over the coming weeks to make users aware of increased risks when mooring in these locations and urging them to take care when accessing their boat/the towpath. We are also soon to install a water point at Old Ford Lock which will be more accessible for use by boaters.

Additionally, dredging at Steele Road has been postponed to April, which is a consequence of our other projects being delayed due to flooding. Eight mooring rings will be installed at Steele Road after dredging is completed, which will give improved access to new customer service facilities planned for this location. Dredging will also be taking place in April at Norwood Top Lock which will open up a long stretch making it possible for boats to moor alongside the towpath.

Our response to Storm Eunice

photo of the impounding station

We've been working hard to repair the damage caused by Storm Eunice back in February. Hundreds of trees were down all across our waterways, and there was widespread flooding and structural damage to many of our sites.

One of the sites that was most affected was our impounding station in Docklands, which houses the heavy-duty pumps that keep the West India Docks topped up with water. The station suffered structural damage due to the storm, which was worrying as we had a visiting warship from the Dutch fleet as well as many local vessels. We quickly implemented our emergency plan, securing the site and installing temporary high-capacity pumps to maintain the water level and this is continuing to operate until the building can be put back into use.

Picture of a docked war ship at night time

Docklands visitors

As already mentioned, we have had a number of large warships visiting the West India Docks recently, including the 144-metre HNLMS Tromp of the Dutch fleet (pictured at top), which docked in Canary Wharf in February. You can view footage of her arrival here.

The West India Docks (otherwise known as Canary Wharf) still has an important role to play in the moorings of large vessels like this, and we highly recommend a visit down to the docklands to see these impressive ships up close. Find out more about visiting here.

Comic Relief success

As you may have seen on our social media these last few weeks, fundraising activities for Comic Relief have been taking place on our waterways. Tom Daley took on a huge challenge for Red Nose Day when he rowed, cycled, swam, and ran his way from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford all the way to his home town of Plymouth. Tom's first day of the ‘Hell of a Homecoming' Challenge included rowing along the Limehouse Cut. He managed to raise over £1m for Comic Relief.

BBC Radio 1 presenter Jordan North also took up a monumental challenge when he rowed from London to his hometown of Burnley, a total of 100 miles. Jordan, a rookie rower, had to navigate the nation's canals backwards for 8 hours a day. He raised over £800,000 for Comic Relief.

Air Quality Mission Statement

Our research shows that boats make relatively little contribution to air quality emissions (compared to urban background levels) or climate change gases (when compared to road vehicles). However, we recognise that emissions from boats impact on the health of boaters, particularly when they get blown into and trapped in cabins, and that localised concerns can arise over air quality where numbers of boats collect in urban areas. Every sector needs to do their bit towards tackling these very significant issues.

Ros Daniels, director for London & the South East, commented: “Our research shows that, while the impact of boat emissions is minimal in comparison to pollution from road traffic, the people most at risk from engine fumes are boaters themselves. However, many boaters need to burn wood to provide heating and cook food, and feel they lack a viable alternative. Using cleaner sources of wood, and energy from electric charging points, will benefit boaters' health. Living on the waterways can be a sustainable and environmentally friendly choice, boaters live close to nature and many are keen to embrace green initiatives like solar panels and clean fuel.”

We're committed to working with boaters and other partners to take action to improve air quality and help reduce emissions associated with boating on our waterways. We're prioritising action initially on areas of local impact. We have already installed eco-mooring zones in several areas of London, and we are working together with local councils in London to study if these measures are indeed reducing air pollution. We're working with these local authorities and boating customers to provide advice on how they can reduce the impact from emissions, while also recognising that this is often difficult and expensive.

Known works/closures

Lee Navigation

Starts at: Bridge 4, Three Mills Lane

Ends at: Lock 19, Old Ford Lock, Eastern Side.

What: National Grid carrying out works, caution should be taken when approaching.

Towpath closed? No

Date of works : 18/03/22 - ongoing

Regent's Canal

Where: Ragged School Museum, Copperfield Rd

What: 3rd party works, scaffolding removal

Towpath closed? Yes

Date of works: 09/03/22 - 13/04/22

Grand Union Canal

Where: Cowley Sanitary Station

What: Closure of Cowley elsan due to vandalism

Towpath closed? No

Date of closure: 15/03/22 - ongoing

Thank you for reading this issue of London Boaters' Update. Any feedback on this newsletter can be directed to our channels here.

Until our next issue, stay safe and happy boating,

The London & South-East team.

Last Edited: 31 March 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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