Fund Britain's Waterways Press Release 12/2/2024


FBW Logo

For immediate release

Date: 12 February 2024


Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW) to provide members the opportunity to quiz Navigation Authorities

FBW was launched at the end of June 2023 in response to the inadequate funding and deteriorating state of Britain’s network of canals and navigable rivers. Despite the widespread appreciation of the value of this unique and well-loved national asset and the benefits it delivers, the Government appears intent on significantly reducing its funding. Through FBW more than 110 organisations are campaigning together for national and local government to act now and protect the public benefit and natural capital of our waterways.

FBW’s activities to date have focused on raising awareness of the challenges facing our canals and rivers and the message that increased and sustainable funding is needed. Three well-reported Campaign Cruises were held in 2023, in Birmingham, Gloucester and past the Palace of Westminster on the Thames. In 2024 there will be a weekend of action over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend (4 to 6 May 2024). This will comprise a series of events across the country on waterways managed by different inland navigation authorities, in addition to IWA’s annual Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice in London. It will culminate in a second Campaign Cruise past the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 8 May, when Parliamentarians will be invited to view the event and express their support for the continued maintenance of the waterways.

At the same time as campaigning for increased funding for navigation authorities, FBW recognises the importance of those navigation authorities being able to explain how they are making the best possible use of funds for the waterways. FBW will therefore be holding sessions with major navigation authorities, starting with the Canal & River Trust on Wednesday 10 April 2024. 

The sessions will be chaired by FBW and live streamed to FBW members, with a recording and written notes of the meeting to be made publicly available at a later date. FBW members are invited to submit detailed written questions, which will be collated and submitted to each navigation authority two weeks in advance of its meeting. FBW will then ask the questions in the meeting and the navigation authority will provide detailed answers, both in person in the meeting and also in writing.

Les Etheridge, Chair of FBW said “By arranging these sessions we are enabling FBW members to ask questions on any area including those where reservations are publicly expressed.  These will be positive and constructive sessions which we hope will benefit both the navigation authority and FBW”  

About Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW): FBW brings together a wide range of organisations with the sole purpose of campaigning collectively for an increase in government funding of Britain’s inland waterways to avert their decline, and to promote awareness of the huge economic, environmental and social well-being value they provide. Established in June 2023, it already has over 110 members representing hundreds of thousands of users and supporters of inland waterways. 


For further information about Fund Britain’s Waterways, or to submit a question for the Canal & River Trust session (by 13 March 2024), contact


This entry was posted on 12/02/2024 by Des Barnard.

Update from Fund Britain's Waterways

Dear Members and Supporters, 

  Update on Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW) including the public petition and the Westminster Campaign Cruise Tuesday 14th November  

FBW continues to bring all those interested in our inland waterways together and is attracting wide public support for its campaign to safeguard the future of Britain’s unique network of inland waterways.  This email is to remind all members of the key messages FBW is working to convey and to alert you to next month’s Westminster Campaign Cruise on 14th November which is still open for boat registration.

Now with almost 100 organisations as members FBW is not only seeking an increase in future funding of the waterways managed by the Canal and River Trust and the Environment Agency but also assurance that there will be adequate investment to safely maintain the network, including those waterways managed by smaller navigation authorities.  FBW’s key message is that Britain’s inland waterways are a highly valued national asset for all and must be safeguarded for future generations to come.  As you know, they are enjoyed by millions of people each year and their associated businesses provide crucial employment for communities up and down the land. However, without sustainable funding arrangements going forward all is being put at risk.  Therefore, please continue to use every possible means, including social media channels, to help raise awareness of #FundBritainsWaterways and encourage people to sign FBW’s public petition which is set to soon exceed 50,000 signatures.    

Maintaining FBW’s momentum in the run up to the next General Election is essential. It is why we will continue to plan further events for the Spring following next month’s Westminster Campaign Cruise which will build on the recent success of campaign cruises in Birmingham and Gloucester.  The November Westminster Campaign Cruise will involve a good variety of boats including narrow boats and working boats. The flotilla will make its way along the Thames from West India Dock to Westminster Bridge for around midday on Tuesday 14th November subject to weather conditions.  The boats are expected to hold position for a short time off the Palace of Westminster before returning to West India Dock where all mooring fees have been waived for this campaign cruise.  Boats can still register up to 24th October to join the cruise and there are also some spaces left for competent crew. 

If you are unable to participate on the water but would like to show you support by joining others on Westminster Bridge that day please contact Frances Phasey on Tel 07734 038 297 who can sign you up to the supporters WhatsApp group.  In this way you will be kept fully up to date on the progress of the boats and their expected time of arrival at Westminster.  For more details, including on registration and itinerary, please view FBW’s website page: 

With best wishes,

Les Etheridge 


  Fund Britain’s Waterways


This entry was posted on 20/10/2023 by Des Barnard.

Fund Britain’s Waterways warns against the government’s latest Canal & River Trust funding offer



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Date: 11 July 2023


Fund Britain’s Waterways warns against the government’s latest Canal & River Trust funding offer

After months of waiting for DEFRA to announce its decision on future grant funding for the Canal & River Trust (CRT), and less than a fortnight after the launch of Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW), the Secretary of State has now confirmed that the Government plans at least to continue providing grant funding to CRT beyond March 2027 when the current grant comes to an end. Whilst this is welcomed, FBW members including Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs are deeply concerned that the Secretary of State has only gone as far to offer “over £400m” for the ten-year period from April 2027 which marks a further dramatic cut1. According to CRT it will equate to at least a 40% reduction of funding in real terms compared to recent levels2. The current funding, which has been fixed at £52.6m per annum since 2021, is already failing to keep up with inflation and the physical toll that more frequent severe weather is having on the waterways’ infrastructure.  

DEFRA’s offer is simply not enough to avert the decline of CRT’s network, particularly given the charity already faces a deficit of £12 -15m. The grant it receives from DEFRA makes up almost a quarter of its income and is critical in helping it lever in other sources of income and fund its essential maintenance programme. As Richard Parry, Chief Executive of CRT, has said3 the proposed funding cuts from 2027/2028 will have a potentially “devastating impact”.

FBW is campaigning to ensure that beyond this Parliament there will be sufficient grant funding to retain the huge environmental, economic and social benefits that Britain’s inland waterways provide. That includes the 2,000 miles of waterways managed by CRT which alone contribute £6.1bn per year in economic and social value4. It is why, as part of FBW’s broader campaign, it will continue to work with CRT and others to encourage the Government to rethink this week’s funding announcement.

Les Etheridge, Chair of FBW, said: “The Government must take heed of CRT’s warnings. Otherwise, these proposed cuts will result in the closure of waterways, harming businesses and placing communities at risk as the condition of CRT’s waterways inevitably deteriorates.”



Notes to Editors:

1. DEFRA’s  Written Statement is available to view at:

2. CRT media release Government funding cuts put future of nation’s historic canals at risk | Canal & River Trust (

3. Ibid

4. “Valuing Our Waterways” (November 2022) published by CRT / Simetrica-Jacobs, with all methodology aligning with 2022 HM Treasury Green Book valuation techniques


About Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW): FBW brings together a wide range of organisations with the sole purpose of campaigning collectively for an increase in government funding of Britain’s inland waterways to avert their decline, and to promote awareness of the huge economic, environmental and social well-being value they provide. Established in June 2023, it already has over 40 members representing hundreds of thousands of users and supporters of inland waterways.

Contact: For further information contact




This entry was posted on 13/07/2023 by Des Barnard.

Fund Britain’s Waterways calls on Government to stop inland waterways falling into disrepair



FBW Logo

For immediate release

Date: 27 June 2023


Fund Britain’s Waterways calls on Government to stop inland waterways falling into disrepair


Britain’s unique and well-loved network of canals and navigable rivers is deteriorating because of inadequate funding. At a time of unprecedented challenges caused by the climate emergency and high inflation, government is failing to respond. Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW), a coalition of organisations representing hundreds of thousands of users and supporters of inland waterways, is campaigning for national and local government to act now and protect the public benefit and natural capital of our waterways.

Management of Britain’s 5,000 miles of navigable inland waterways is fragmented. The Canal & River Trust (CRT) has the greatest responsibility covering 2,000 miles. It is already in a difficult financial situation with a fixed government grant of £52.6m per year until 2027. Defra was expected to confirm funding for 2028 onwards in July 2022 but has not yet made an announcement. Other waterways face similar problems: the Environment Agency is operating with £22m per year, one third of its identified requirement, and Scottish Canals has over £70m of maintenance work outstanding.

The consequences of failing to maintain waterway infrastructure were clearly shown by the evacuation of 1,500 local residents in case the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir collapsed in 2019. This event has shown the need for increased spend on CRT reservoirs of up to £25m per year, but it is as if the lessons have not yet been learnt.

The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the value of Britain’s inland waterways as people sought blue and green spaces to help recover. This was acknowledged in Defra’s own Environmental Improvement Plan, providing levelling up, economic, environmental, health and wellbeing benefits for us all.

The combined annual economic and social value of CRT waterways alone has been quantified as £6.1bn, including cost savings of £1.1bn for the NHS from active use of the waterways and towpaths.

Despite this greater understanding of their value, and the deteriorating state of the infrastructure today, the Government appears intent on significantly reducing its funding for the waterways, says Les Etheridge, Chair of the FBW steering group and National Chair of the Inland Waterways Association.

He said: “Government needs to recognise that saying they value the inland waterways is not enough to prevent their decline. Whilst we in FBW understand the financial pressures that everyone faces, the financial cuts are too deep, and adequate public funding needs to be allocated to maintain these national assets. FBW will be taking action starting with a campaign cruise in Birmingham over the weekend of 12-13 August 2023.”



For further information, please contact the IWA Chief Executive Officer, Sarah Niblock.

Email: or call: 01494 783453.


For more information about Fund Britain’s Waterways, or to join the group, please visit or email



The initial member organisations of Fund Britain’s Waterways include:

·         Accessible Waterways Association , set up to inform, represent, and assist people who live with disabilities, impairments or accessibility issues, and who want to enjoy the Inland Waterways and their surrounding environments

·         Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs , an affiliated group of boat clubs offering their members mutual facilities relating to boating on the inland waterways of England and Wales

·         Basingstoke Canal Society , working to secure an environmentally sustainable long-term future of the Basingstoke Canal for the benefit of its users and the community

·         Braunston Marina , a major centre for leisure craft and narrowboats at the crossroads of the Grand Union and Oxford Canals

·         British Canoeing , the national governing body for paddlesports in the UK

·         British Marine , trade body for the UK leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry, representing 1400 member businesses, through regional and group specific member associations which include:   

o   British Marine’s Inland Boating Association with over 100 independent companies offering river and canal holidays on hire boats, hotel boats, plus passenger trip boats and business services

o   British Marine’s Passenger Boat Association representing all sectors of the passenger boat industry, including scheduled transport services, pleasure trips, private & business hire

o   The Broads Hire Boat Federation including operators of holiday hire cruisers and day-hire craft on the Norfolk Broads

o   British Marine’s London and Thames Valley Regional Association which has over 250 members, of which over 80 operate their business alongside the non-tidal and tidal River Thames

·         Chesterfield Canal Trust , working to promote the full restoration and appropriate development of the Chesterfield Canal, and to campaign for the construction of the Rother Valley Link, a navigable waterway to join the Chesterfield Canal to the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation

·         Commercial Boat Operators Association , the prime trade organisation involved in the effort to sustain and increase freight carriage on our waterways for economic and environmental reasons

·         DBA – The Barge Association , the club for people interested in leisure barging on the inland waterways of Europe

·         Electric Boat Association , championing the interests of electric boat owners

·         Fox Narrowboats , a long-established family business operating a marina in March in Cambridgeshire, providing narrowboat and day boat hire, and curating a comprehensive blog about Fenland waterways

·         Great Ouse Boating Association , representing boaters on the rivers Great Ouse, Cam, Lark, Little Ouse, Wissey and associated East Anglian waterways of England

·         Historic Narrow Boat Club , a not-for-profit national club dedicated to preserving the working heritage of UK canals, from the boats themselves to details of the waterways on which they travel

·         Inland Waterways Association , the only independent, national charity dedicated to supporting and regenerating Britain's navigable rivers and canals as places for leisure, living and business

·         Kennet & Avon Canal Trust , the charity that restored the Kennet & Avon Canal which runs from Bristol to Reading and now operates 9 trip boats, including 4 for disabled passengers, and the world famous and fully operational Crofton Pumping Station

·         Kennet & Avon Trade Association , a local trade association for businesses operating on the Kennet & Avon Canal

·         Lowland Canals Association , aiming to promote the interests and well-being of boaters and other users of the lowland canals

·         National Association of Boat Owners , listening to boat owners, speaking out for boat owners, representing boat owners

·         National Inland Navigation Forum , a forum bringing together organisations with inland navigational interests

·         Newbury Boat Company , a family-run marina within a Site of Special Scientific Interest on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Newbury

·         Residential Boat Owners’ Association , the only national organisation which exclusively represents and promotes the interests of people living on boats in the British Isles

·         Roving Canal Traders Association , a non-profit making organisation run to help support and promote the diverse array of existing and potential Canal & River Trust registered Roving Traders on our waterways

·         Royal Yachting Association , the national governing body for dinghy, motor and sail cruising, all forms of sail racing, RIBs and sportsboats, windsurfing and personal watercraft, and a leading representative body for inland waterways cruising in the UK

·         Thames MotorBoaters Association , representing owners of powered craft registered on the non-tidal Thames

·         Torksey Yacht Club , a small club based at the junction of the Fossdyke Navigation and the River Trent at the ancient village of Torksey with the stated intention of significantly widening membership to any organisation or individual with an interest in using or supporting inland waterways whether canal, river, tidal river or estuary (excluding navigation authorities).


The benefits of Britain’s inland waterways are documented in:

·         ‘Waterways for Today’ report published by the Inland Waterways Association (November 2022)

·         ‘Valuing Our Waterways’ report published by the Canal & River Trust with social-value experts Simetrica-Jacobs, with all methodology aligning with 2022 HM Treasury Green Book valuation techniques (November 2022)



This entry was posted on 27/06/2023 by Des Barnard.


At the request of the NEC, I had the privilege of presenting the “Inter club magazine trophy” to this year’s worthy winners “The Ashby Canal Association” for their magazine “SPOUT”, it’s a quarterly publication sent by post to the Association’s members, and with an annual subscription for a single member of only £13 you will not be surprised to learn the Association has around 600 members.

The Associations big project is the reinstatement and restoration of the Ashby canal from Snarestone all the way through to Moira, this section closed in the 1960’s due to mining subsidence, for more information

Seen in the photograph, from right to left, Arran Jenkins, ACA magazine editor, Peter Oakden, Chairman of the ACA and Mick Griffin, Vice chair, Midlands AWCC.

Thanks, Nigel Smith (ACA rep) for making sure the magazine got entered and to Ian Palmer for taking the photo.



This entry was posted on 25/03/2023 by Mick Griffin.