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News article created on 28 February 2011

Government statement on transfer of state-owned waterways into new waterways charity

The Government has today (Monday 28 February 2011) announced its preference for a phased transfer of state-owned waterways in England and Wales into the planned new waterway charity, with British Waterways’ canals and rivers moving in 2012 and the Environment Agency (EA) navigations moving in 2015.

The decision is intended to ensure that sufficient funding can be found to enable the charity to take on the liabilities associated with the EA navigations from the start of the next Spending Review

Commenting on the announcement, British Waterways’ Chairman, Tony Hales said: “We welcome the Government’s continued commitment to the planned ‘national trust for the waterways’ and hope the EA navigations may be able to benefit in the future. While there will be some who are disappointed by the decision not to include all the state-owned waterways from the outset, we appreciate the Government’s caution in ensuring the considerable issues of financial sustainability for the EA navigations have first been fully addressed.”

Consultation on the proposal to establish a ‘national trust’ for British Waterways’ canals and rivers in England and Wales is expected to begin in March. The setting up of the new charity will be enabled by the passage of the Public Bodies Bill through Parliament later this year. The new waterways charity is expected to be up and running by April 2012, subject to Parliamentary time and consent.

Defra has already started the process of establishing the new charity, appointing an Advisory Panel on First Appointments and Transition to provide advice to Ministers and advertising for ‘Transition Trustees’ who are due to be appointed in April.

First published 28th Feb 2011.