Rivers use to be increased

MESSING about on the river is set to get a bright new image with moves unveiled today to encourage people to make more use of waterways for leisure.In Suffolk, the focus will be on the River Stour – with £250,000 to be spent over the next five years on a series of projects to improve navigation.

MESSING about on the river is set to get a bright new image with moves unveiled today to encourage people to make more use of waterways for leisure.

In Suffolk, the focus will be on the River Stour - with £250,000 to be spent over the next five years on a series of projects to improve navigation.

The Environment Agency announced its Your Rivers For Life strategy at the London Boat Show.

Baroness Young, the agency's chief executive, said: "Our rivers are now cleaner than they have ever been.


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"Despite the improved quality of the environment, however, the number of people using rivers for fun and relaxation has been declining in recent years.

"For instance, the number of privately-owned boats on the Thames decreased by 30 per cent between 1980 and 2002. We would like to see this trend reversed.

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"That is why we have today launched a plan that could see the biggest sustained investment in the rivers that we oversee since the 1950s.

"This will improve access, increase the number of moorings and build facilities on our river banks that will get our rivers up there with the best in Europe.

"Better facilities brings more people to the river, more people on the river brings more money to the area."

In East Anglia the main target project will be in the Fens with a new super-waterway to link Ely with Peterborough and other towns.

In Suffolk, plans have been drawn up for the Stour to improve navigation from Sudbury to Cattawade.

Eastern region waterways manager John Adams said this would include more slipways to improve access onto the river for various craft, and new routes around weirs, locks and other barriers for small boats, canoes and rowing boats.

This would also enable slightly larger boats to use the picturesque route and encouragement would be given to owners of electric boats to use the river.

"Electric boats are very environmentally-friendly and in parts of Europe, Scandinavia and America are very popular. In places rivers have been designated for electric boats only, although we would not go that far," said Mr Adams.

"Our aim is to make it easier and encourage people to enjoy what is a delightful river with a very high environmental value."

The Orwell and Deben will not be part of the new strategy because the Environment Agency does not control the navigation rights.

These rivers - particularly the Orwell, used by an enormous amount of commercial shipping - are already well-used by many small boat and yacht owners. In some places there has been concern on the pressure placed on wildlife habitat.

These rivers will benefit from other projects and a draft management scheme has recently been published for the Stour and Orwell, outlining a number of issues and problems which need to be dealt with, including water quality, erosion of riverbanks, recreation, and bait digging.

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