A proposal for the Canal & River Trust to take over the non-tidal River Thames is expected to go to the Government in the next two months.
The plan is for the trust, which already regulates 2000 miles of waterways, to take over four of the Environment Agency's waterways - the Thames, the Nene, Ouse and Medway.
RTN understands the CRT would take over responsibility for the navigation, some, non-critical weirs and sluices and other installations. The EA would retain responsibility for strategic weirs and sluices vital for flood risk management.
The proposal would cover the non-tidal river from Teddington to its source.
And although the trust says it is committed to maintaining assisted passage for boats through all the locks with a combination of professional and volunteer lock- and weir-keepers, it says in the long term as staff retire decisions would be made as to future manning and use of the lock houses.
Members of the Thames User Navigation Group were recently briefed by the trust Chief Executive Richard Parry and Peter Walker, National Infrastructure Manager.
Michael Shefras of the River Thames Alliance, which represents organisations and companies along the river, who organised the meeting said: "All on the Thames are keen to understand the potential move of the Thames Navigation to CRT.
"It is a very complex situation and the Thames is significantly different to the waterways managed by CRT. Richard Parry addressed Thames boaters with a very transparent report .
"Outcome is of course important to all members of River Thames Alliance and work continues so that what might be anticipated is fully understood by all sides.”
of the Molesey to Kingston River Users' Group, who attended the briefing, said: "Overall, I was impressed by the presentation and confident that our river will be in safe hands with the CRT, if they get the green light from the minister."
The CRT is currently preparing the joint proposal with the agency to go to the Waterways Minister Thérèse Coffey in April or May.
The CRT was formed in 2012 as a charitable trust by the coalition government. It looks after two thirds of the national network and has an income of £190 million a year, of which £50 million is government grant (due for renegotiation in 2022).
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “It remains Government’s long-term aim for the EA navigations to transfer to CRT. Investigations are still continuing and the details of any potential transfer have not yet been worked through and agreed.”
The CRT said: "We are happy to speak openly with Thames Users but there is little explicit to say at the present time as no decision has been taken.
Link to Canal & River Trust.
Link to River Thames Alliance
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Story dated March 1st 2017