27 November 2020

Our vision for sustainable boating outlines how developments in more environmentally friendly propulsion can help the inland waterways meet the UK’s zero carbon commitments.  The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Waterways learned more about the subject of sustainable propulsion on 10th November. MPs and Lords were joined at the meeting by IWA, boating organisations, navigation authorities and other stakeholders, to hear the latest thinking.  A lively discussion followed four expert presentations and concluded when Michael Fabricant MP, Chair of the Group, committed to write to the Chancellor on behalf of the APPGW.  His letter (see below) focuses on 3 key issues: 

  • the need to invest in infrastructure to deliver more electric charging points across the system;
  • a proposed boat engine scrappage scheme to encourage conversion of existing boats;  and
  • a move towards greater distribution and use of biofuels. This step is favoured, over the current proposal by HMRC and HM Treasury to move from red diesel to white for inland waterways craft.

the Presentations

First off, Bowman Bradley, chair of IWA’s Sustainable Propulsion Group, presented IWA’s viewpoint.  He pointed out that policy makers will need to develop a legislative framework to meet the sector’s vision.  For instance, Government would need to invest in a recharging infrastructure, to include electric charging points, hydrogen technologies as well as provide more support for biofuels.

Second up, Jonathan Collins of Cadent Gas highlighted the growing importance and developments of hydrogen-based technologies in reducing emissions from the residential, transport and maritime sector.  Philip Whiffin from the University of Warwick demonstrated that the low energy and low power requirements of the majority of canal-based pleasure craft, made battery-based solutions feasible and cost effective as replacements for traditional hydrocarbon-based engines.   Finally, the Group also heard about a scheme led by Oxfordshire County Council.  Marine engine manufacturers, electric vehicle and infrastructure providers and other user and stakeholder groups are working together on a feasibility study to install electric charging points on the Oxford Canal.  

Interesting follow-up reading

Letter from Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP, Chair of the APPGW has written to the Chancellor with three key issues in mind