At a meeting last week, the Defra Minister with responsibility for the Waterways, Dr Thérèse Coffey, informed IWA representatives that the transfer was still being considered subject to further talks to refine CRT’s proposals. IWA has since received confirmation from Defra that Government remains receptive to a revised proposal from CRT and understands that the Minister has offered a further meeting with CRT.
IWA recognises the efforts of the Environment Agency to maintain their navigations within the limited government grant available to them and the lack of opportunity to attract further funding as CRT can. IWA is particularly concerned that during this entire debate there has been no indication from government as to how sufficient and sustainable levels of funding will be provided for EA navigations if the transfer does not progress. With increased pressure on general EA budgets through Defra and the need to prioritise other services such as flood control, the funding for navigation is likely to decrease and their navigation assets deteriorate further.
IWA believes that these matters should be capable of resolution and that a transfer of EA navigations remains the best way to ensure the future of these waterways with the minimum impact on the public purse. IWA urges Defra and CRT to continue negotiations towards a mutually acceptable solution and in the meantime we will focus on the matter which has always been our primary concern – the levels of funding for EA navigations.
Find out more about our campaign for the transfer of Environment Agency Navigations to Canal & River Trust.