Pleasure boats may have to pay to use Fenland’s canals

MP Steve Barclay meeting Waterways Minister Richard Benyon at the Department for Environment, Food a

MP Steve Barclay meeting Waterways Minister Richard Benyon at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. - Credit: Archant

PLEASURE boats may soon be charged a levy for using Fenland’s waterways.

The proposals would give the Middle Level Waterman’s authority, which is responsible for 100 miles of canals, the power to raise funds from leisure craft passing through its waterways.

The levies could raise £50,000 a year, which would be used to improve moorings and flood defences.

At present, an 18th century law curtails the power of the waterways authorities to levy funds from pleasure boats.

Iain Smith, chief executive and clerk of the Middle Level Commission, said: “We are fully supportive of a bill which would allow us to levy charges on leisure boats.


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“We estimate this would raise £50,000 a year, which would be spent on improving the locks.

“If it does go through, from our point of view, it would be very pleasing to be able to call on boat owners to make a fair contribution to maintaining the waterways.”

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MP Steve Barclay met with MP Richard Benyon, the Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to discuss this issue.

Mr Barclay said: “The Minister showed he understood the need to bring the Middle Level Commission in line with other waterways around the country.

“North East Cambridgeshire is currently the only authority in England unable to access funding for improvements from canal users.

“This limitation is holding back the potential for our canals to become wonderful attractions for leisure boaters.

“These waterways are located in beautiful Fenland landscape and could become a key element of the local tourist offering and growth plan for the area.”

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