Decision Maker

Canal & River Trust

The Canal & River Trust is a charitable trust that was set up to look after the waterways of England and Wales.

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Petitioning Environment agency, Canal & River Trust, UK Government and Opposition

River Lea Oil Disaster ▶ We call for effective environmental protection for our waterways

The River Lea flows south from the Chiltern Hills through East London to the River Thames, and is a major source of London’s drinking water. The Lea Valley is home to over 200 bird species, over 35 species of mammal and over 500 species of plant; all of which are under persistent threat from contaminated waste entering the river at Pymmes Brook. On Sunday 11th February 2018, the River Lea saw its worst – but by no means only – incident of waste crime in recent history when used engine oil entered the river at Pymmes Brook. The slow emergency response by both the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust enabled the contamination to spread up- and downstream over five miles of waterway.  By the Environment Agency’s own calculations, over 78,000 litres of oil-polluted water has been removed from the contaminated area since the incident. The Swan Sanctuary rescued more than 30 swans and other waterbirds. Many other animals died. There were already 40 swans in care at The Swan Sanctuary following another recent pollution event from Pymmes Brook on 28th December 2017 – otherwise admissions in February 2018 would likely have exceeded 70. Local residents, businesses, rowers, walkers, tourists and live-aboard boaters have been subject to harmful fumes, along with the sight of dead and contaminated wildlife; not to mention the toxic waste itself. Some local river-based businesses and organisations have had no option but to cease operations during this time. A boater and Canal & River Trust joint volunteer clean-up effort was undermined when hazardous waste held in unsealed tonne bags, including dead animals, was left on public towpaths uncollected by the Environment Agency for over three weeks. Volunteers have noted the Environment Agency’s proactive work at the source of the spill, as well as the initial dedication of a handful of Canal & River Trust staff on the ground. It is, however, over one month since the incident and volunteers are still organising regular clean-up operations with no support from the Environment Agency or the Canal & River Trust. After one month, the oil spill has still not been contained or cleaned Throughout this environmental disaster communication between agencies and the affected communities has been substandard, and has fallen short of the most basic expectations: No clarity between Environment Agency and Canal & River Trust’s responsibilities No evidence of an emergency response contingency plan or strategy Insufficient briefing of Canal & River Trust staff and volunteers No proactive or clear communication with boat licence holders, rowing clubs or marinas No education of towpath users or local businesses Lack of clean-up resources available to boaters and volunteers Failure to close waterways quickly and the premature reopening of Hertford Union Canal leading to spread of the contamination The Canal & River Trust has acknowledged they “deal with on average six pollution events each year relating to the discharges from Pymmes Brook”. Why then were authorities so unprepared to cope with this major incident? The Canal & River Trust’s purpose is “to act as guardian for the canals and rivers of England and Wales – ensuring that history, nature and communities are central to everything we do.” The Environment Agency “protect and improve the quality of water, making sure there is enough for people, businesses, agriculture and the environment.” We, the Undersigned, call upon the Addressees to provide:  Explanations – Why was an environmental disaster neither acted upon immediately, nor respective actions clearly communicated? Transparency – We call on the Environment Agency and Canal & River Trust to share publicly their waste crime response and communication strategy, including roles and responsibilities and allotted emergency budget. Improvements – We demand an inter-agency investigation and root cause analysis of the February 2018 River Lea Oil Disaster and clean-up response. Lessons learnt and future measures to prevent and cope with disasters of such nature should be shared publicly. Accountability – We call on DEFRA, EAC and the EFRA select committee to hold the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust to account for their handling of this disaster and to consider whether the agencies are adequately funded to meet their public objectives. Scrutiny – A process established whereby charities and community groups can review the approach to water quality and pollution management within the Lea Valley. Open letter and online petition created and signed by: Lea Boaters CollectiveAnna Kröger, Emily Nicholl, Graham Ryder, Gwennan Thomas, Jola Mackenzie, Laurie Watkins, Elizabeth Perrett, Sophie Scott, Tom Whitehead, Topher Dagg Thames21Debbie Leach, Chief Executive The Green PartyCaroline Russell, Assembly MemberSian Berry, Assembly MemberAlastair Binnie-Lubbock, Hackney Green Party Mayoral Candidate The Swan SanctuaryDorothy Beeson MBE, BEM, Founder London WaterkeeperTheo Thomas, Chief Executive NBTA LondonDave Mendes da Costa, Chair Residential Boat Owners’ AssociationAlan Wildman, Chair Moo CanoesKaty Hogarth, Founding Director Alfie Hatt , Founding Director Alfred le RoyBen Perkins, Captain Save Lea MarshesCaroline Day, RepresentativeAbigail Woodman, Representative Lea Rowing ClubLucy Stackpool-Moore, Club Captain Amwell Magna FisheryFeargal Sharkey, Chairman Tottenham & Wood Green Friends of the EarthQuentin Given, Co-ordinator Stonebridge Lock CoalitionFrances Dismore, Chair Sue Wend Ho, Secretary A copy of this letter will be sent to: Environment Agency: Sir James Bevan, Chief Executive; Dr Toby Willison, Executive Director of Operations; Sarah Chare, Director Operations South East Simon Hawkins, Deputy Director Hertfordshire & North London. Canal & River Trust: Richard Parry, Chief Executive; Peter Birch, Group Environment Manager; Jon Guest, Waterway Manager in London; Nick Smith, National Waste and Contamination Surveyor. Government and Opposition: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA): Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment. The Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee: Neil Parish MP, Chair. Environmental Audit Committee (EAC): Mary Creagh MP, Chair. Labour Party: Sue Hayman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. David Lammy MP, Tottenham. Dianne Abbott MP, Hackney North & Stoke Newington, Shadow Home Secretary. Meg Hillier MP, Hackney South & Shoreditch

Lea Boaters Collective, Green Party, Thames21, NBTA London, Residential Boat Owners’ Association, Moo Canoes, Save Lea Marshes, Alfred le Roy, The Swan Sanctuary, London Waterkeeper, Lea Rowing Club
6,885 supporters
Petitioning Wadworth's Brewery, Canal & River Trust

Re-instate boaters' rubbish disposal at the Bridge Inn, Horton, Wiltshire

Re-instate boaters' rubbish disposal at the Bridge Inn, Horton, Wiltshire To: 1. Wadworth's Brewery 2. Canal & River Trust Living or holidaying on a canal boat means you rely on the facilities provided at the canalside, such as rubbish bins, water taps, temporary and permanent moorings and sometimes car parking. Until recently, the Bridge Inn at Horton, Wiltshire was the site of rubbish bins, a water tap and a car park that boaters could use as well as long-term and visitor moorings. The rubbish bins were provided by the navigation authority Canal & River Trust on land owned by Wadworths Brewery.   On 1st August 2018 Canal & River Trust informed boaters that the bins at the Bridge Inn, Horton would be closed until further notice due to Wadworths Brewery withdrawing its consent for the bin site. We are extremely concerned about the effect on boaters, especially those who live aboard, of removing yet another essential facility on the Kennet and Avon Canal.   Boaters have already lost rubbish disposal at the Barge Inn, Honey Street; the bins at the very busy Devizes Wharf were removed for some years and only replaced with bins of much reduced capacity after lobbying on the part of boaters and others. Even before this, boaters' facilities on the Kennet and Avon Canal, a major holiday boating destination, were scarce and inadequate.   The Bridge Inn pub landlord has complained that in the past 2 years the bins were abused by companies fly-tipping and using the bins for bulky waste, rather than paying to use the Council dump on Hopton trading estate. However much of the waste inside the boaters' bins appeared to be restaurant-related, such as food packaging, not fly-tipped household or industrial waste.   There are permanent moorings at the Bridge Inn. The moorers are very concerned because refuse disposal, parking and water supply were all specified in their mooring agreements and in the advertisement for the moorings. The mooring fee reflects the facilities available and also influenced the prices boaters were willing to bid when they took part in auctions for the moorings. As of 1st August 2018 they are paying over the odds for services that have been withdrawn.   There is a 99-year lease dating from 2002 in favour of Canal & River Trust giving the navigation authority exclusive right to use the end section of the pub car park with rights of access. This is so that moorers can have vehicle access to their boats. This land could be used to re-site the bins on land that the Trust controls.   We call upon Wadworths and Canal & River Trust to re-instate the boaters' rubbish bins at the Bridge Inn, Horton and to ensure that the water tap and car park continue to be available to boaters.

Matthew Williams
404 supporters
Save London's only floating bookshop by giving them a permanent mooring at Paddington Station.

We are absolutely not trying to shut down the book barge, Word on the Water, and there is nothing stopping it from continuing to benefit from its roving trade licence, which allows it to pop up at different locations around the canals. We agree with many of the sentiments expressed about the business and appreciate that it is valued by those who have enjoyed seeing it around London over the last few years. Long may this continue! Word on the Water, along with eight other enterprises, entered a competitive tender to secure permanent moorings at the very busy and popular spot outside the new entrance to Paddington Station. We appreciate that they were disappointed at not securing the mooring, but this does not stop them from continuing to carry out their business as a roving trader at different locations across London, as their licence allows them. As a charity entrusted with the care of 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in England and Wales, we have a responsibility to secure the best deal for the canal and its visitors, and to earn the vital resources needed to maintain the nation’s historic waterways. We cannot give one particular enterprise special treatment or, as a charity, charge them below market rates for a high value location.

5 years ago