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British Waterways

Volume 453: debated on Monday 27 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what Government funding has been provided to British Waterways in each of the last five years for which figures are available; what funding is planned for each of the next three years; and if he will make a statement. (104286)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers given on 23 October 2006, Official Report, column 1607W; and 2 November 2006, Official Report, column 572W.

Following devolution, the Scottish Executive became responsible for British Waterways’ activities in Scotland. The table shown in the answer given on 23 October gives the grant paid from 2001-02 by DEFRA for waterways in England and Wales.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the likely impact on remainder waterways of the proposed reduction in the budget of the Environment Agency and British Waterways; (102369)

(2) if he will make a statement on maintenance obligations in relation to the remainder waterways.

It is for British Waterways (BW) to prioritise its activities in the light of competing demands for available resources and its statutory obligations. The Environment Agency has no remainder waterways.

Section 107 of the Transport Act 1968 places a duty on BW to maintain retained remainder waterways in the most economical manner possible consistent with the requirements of public health and the preservation of amenity and safety. This is qualified by section 22 of the British Waterways Act 1995 which requires BW to take into account the desirability of protecting remainder waterways for future use as cruising waterways, or as areas for other public recreational use, where they have suitable potential. In practice, BW maintains navigable remainder waterways to standards which reflect their use and prospects of use, using contributions from third parties to help fund this work.