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Underfunding: Environment Agency waterways

Funding of waterways managed by the Environment Agency

Along with its many environmental and flood defence responsibilities, the Environment Agency is the navigation authority for 630 miles of inland waterways – such as the Thames and the Medway in the south east – and many waterways in East Anglia.

Whilst funding for Canal & River Trust was guaranteed for 15 years from 2012, budget for the Agency’s navigation function is still subject to annual review and cuts in the grant-in-aid.  The Agency has recently said “in [our most recent funding settlement from Government] we received less than half the grant in aid funding we were bidding for, for both revenue (which contributes to operational staff and maintenance work) and capital (which pays for major asset improvement or replacement projects).  As a result we don’t have as much money, and consequently people, to do all the things that are needed to deliver the plan.”  This is a recipe for managed decline and closure of periphery waterways.

Only with increased funding will these navigations realise their potential through leisure, tourism, health and well-being, all of which come with associated economic benefits for the local and wider UK economy.

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Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding, and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.


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