In October 2010 the Government announced its intention to transfer inland waterways in England and Wales into a new charitable body. The announcement builds on recommendations by British Waterways for the establishment of a ‘national trust’ for the waterways.
The move, the biggest shake up of the waterways since nationalisation in 1948, will attract new investment, secure jobs and give the public a greater say in the running of their local canal or river.
Caring for and championing a 250-year old working heritage requires intense management and significant funding, some of which are limited by British Waterways’ 50-year old governance structures. That is why in May 2009 British Waterways put forward radical proposals for a rethink of how the nation cares for its historic canals and river, taking British Waterways out of direct state control and into the third sector.
The Government responded on 21 June 2010 by announcing that it would explore the potential for combining British Waterways and the Environment Agency’s canals and rivers into a new charitable body as part of a coherent vision for the Government grant-aided inland waterways of England and Wales.
The Government intends to have the new body up and running by April 2012.
Read the open letter from British Waterways' chairman, Tony Hales.