There are significant health, social and economic benefits to the post-Covid recovery of the UK in getting more people out on the water. This was the conclusion of the latest meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways (APPGW). The meeting, facilitated by IWA, focused on the benefits of the recreational uses of the waterways.
The speakers were Ben Seal from British Canoeing, Howard Pridding from RYA and Simon Griffiths from Outdoor Swimming magazine. They all observed a significant increase in people using the waterways, with more people using unpowered craft and swimming in rivers during 2020. This has come as a result of the Covid lockdown and restrictions on other activities.
A key issue is the potential savings to government in healthcare costs if more people are encouraged to take up active participation in watersports. This would require better access to the waterways for a wider and more diverse audience. Likewise, better water quality and safety advice would be needed.
The meeting concluded with the APPGW members present agreeing to follow up these key issues with the relevant Government departments.
Michael Fabricant MP, Chair of the Group, led the meeting. MPs and peers, officials from Defra and representatives of many waterway organisations and navigation authorities all joined the lively discussion.
The APPGW, whose secretariat is provided by IWA, also held its AGM by video meeting earlier on the same day. 14 MPs and Lords were appointed as officers of the Group.