The Government has gone on record to reassure the Canal & River Trust that its waterways will not be detrimentally affected by changes in the Growth & Infrastructure Bill. The statement came after a meeting between the Minister and representatives of the Trust and Inland Waterways Association, and followed impassioned arguments in the House of Lords from Lords Hodgson, Faulkner and Adonis.
Minister for DCLG Baroness Hanham acknowledged “that the Trust carries out a vital role in the preservation of the heritage of our inland waterways” and set out the protections the Government believes the waterways have outside the Bill, but declined to include an amendment proposed by Lord Hodgson on behalf of the Trust.
Commenting on the news, the Trust’s Legal Director, Nigel Johnson, said: “We are disappointed that the Government could not support the amendment, given that it was wholly within the letter and spirit of the Settlement of the waterways into trust on behalf of the nation that the Government implemented less than 12 months ago. Notwithstanding the assurances from the Minister on the floor of the House, we will keep a close eye on how matters develop in practice to see whether or not the Trust is detrimentally affected by the loss of this important protection.
"We are particularly grateful for the strong level of cross party support from peers, MPs and the IWA. They have shown again that the waterways have friends both inside and outside Parliament who will be ready to rally to their support if they are under threat.”
The Trust is now writing to Baroness Hanham to reiterate its position and will monitor the impact of the Act closely once it comes into force.
For a transcript of the debate see: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2013-03-12a.226.2#g232.0.