Thank you for your email and your support.
The Ashby Canal is a Natural England - Sight of Special Scientific Interest from B44 Carlton through to B61 north of Snarestone Tunnel and has been since 1996. This has never presented any practical problems and Ashby Canal Association has always been and still is conscious of the fact and careful to look after and preserve the flora and fauna which indeed is part of what makes the Ashby Canal so very attractive. 2014 is the 20th year of the event and there have been absolutely no problems in previous years. The quiet canal becomes host to up to a hundred friendly visiting boaters who help to make the event successful and after they steadily disperse and the story ends.
This year the local angling club who resent the event and the boats which they claim interfere with their right to fish, took it upon themselves to contact Natural England and tell them that the event and the boats did enormous damage to the reed banks and wild life habitats and the canal bed where rare plants lurk. NI believed this and immediately imposed draconian restrictions which if accepted at face value would have virtually ended the boat rally. These events took place 15th August onwards when there was precious little time left before boats started to arrived. If this had occurred in March, April or May, say, there would have been time to gather information and support and respond in a proper and professional manner but not in less than three weeks.
It has to be said that CRT Central Shires have performed superbly and have negotiated with NI and some give and take has taken place. ACA is now in a situation at this late stage where we have to make the best of what we have and try to keep everyone happy and on-side and hope they understand.
The Shackerstone Festival Committee, ACA and importantly, CRT, are determined that this event will continue in 2015. No one and CRT in particular is prepared to see NI "win" since this also has implications on other waterways around the country.
There is a CRT Press Release which I am forwarding to you by separate email.
Peter Oakden - ACA Chairman
C&RT PRESS RELEASE
Issuued: 26th August 2014 In response to recent online speculation regarding mooring restrictions at Shackerstone Festival and a perceived threat to navigation on the Ashby Canal we would like to explain the discussions that have been taking place. We were contacted by Natural England (NE) on 15 August asking for the imposition of certain conditions within the section of canal that is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to prevent damage from the anticipated boat movements during the festival. The main concern that NE have is to protect the aquatic plants which grow below the water surface in the shallows at the edges of the canal. The passage or mooring of boats in the shallows can damage these plants therefore NE had asked for boats to be single moored to prevent passing boats travelling too closely to the offside vegetation (which would not normally be disturbed by navigation). As the guardian of the Ashby Canal we have a legal, and charitable, obligation to manage the SSSI in such a way that we preserve the canal’s ecology but we also have to balance that with our support for the festival and protecting the interests of our boating customers. We therefore held a meeting with NE on 21 August to discuss our concerns. Following this meeting NE has agreed to the Trust’s suggestion to install 200m of temporary nico-spanning to protect the plants from wash thereby allowing double mooring in specific locations. We are confident that these measures will allow sufficient mooring space for the number of boats expected to attend but it may reduce the navigation to a single boat width in some places. We can assure all boaters that there is no threat to navigation and no proposal to close the canal to boats. The canal was built for boats, and will continue to be enjoyed by boats, however we also have to recognise that it has become an important wildlife habitat – which is part of the canal’s appeal - and that we have to take a balanced approach.
So there you have it. Good to see that us boaters have some say for once. I'm glad to see this Angling club and the NE will not win on this. After all if one club can impose restrictions then all clubs can be entitled to do the same!
So now for our progress today.
So it appears my cloud formations yesterday meant rain for today and although we left in the dry by
7.45am by the time we reached the bottom of Braunston flight we had to endure a fine drizzle which gets in everywhere. A boat had just about left the first lock at the top so Ian raced up and asked if they would wait and share the rest of the locks. Boat name was Evolution at the helm was Martin and his good wife Yvonne. They were very pleased to see us as Yvonne had broken her wrist a few weeks ago and they were not looking forward to doing the flight. Saying that Yvonne still walked on and lifted paddles to set the next lock so all credit to her for managing to carry on.
|A very wet and drizzly Braunston.|
|We were pleased to see this volunteer. Trouble was he only did the first lock leaving us to do all the rest. We even mentioned Yvonne with her broken wrist but it didn't seem to make any difference.|
|Yvonne holding the rope|
|But still managed to wind the paddles up single handed.|
We expected Evolution to join us at Buckby top but we were very surprised to see two working boats appear first. So as a lone boater had just descended he came back to the lock and asked if we would join him.Just as we were about to drop the lock Evolution came round the corner, so instead of locking down alone, they joined us and then moored up to have their breakfast. We continued down with Nb Celia Fiennes.
|And another volunteer. This time more helpful although he concentrated more on the two working boats.|
|Bit scary when the boats above dropped out their lock and with the pound so high the water poured over the top gates. Glad I was well forward.|
|Beautiful sight. Fully laden working boat EMU|
|Followed by HARE|
|Good job her hubby has long legs to leap off the bow..|
|This by our mooring.|