Fund Britain’s Waterways gathers momentum
16 April 2024
by British Marine

Its full steam ahead for the Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW) coalition as its campaign continues to build momentum this General Election year.

FBW’s campaign and media coverage is helping to attract wider public interest in Britain’s inland waterways. So far over 50,000 people have signed FBW’s live petition calling on the Prime Minister to “acknowledge the many social, economic and environmental benefits that Britain’s inland waterways provide and give his assurance that the government will intervene, where necessary, to ensure our rivers and canals remain fully open, navigable, safe and accessible for all.”  British Marine is especially keen that FBW continues to stress the economic importance of the inland waterways, mindful that 42% of the marine industry’s £4.41bn turnover comes from the inland sector.

As part of FBW’s Steering Group, we are very grateful to those British Marine members who have shown their support by joining FBW. Clearly the more individual businesses that back FBW the more weight it is likely to have in convincing government of the need to safeguard the long-term future of our inland waterways. So, if you haven’t already, please consider joining FBW by emailing membership(at) and signing its petition today, as well as encouraging others to do so!

As well as urging government to rethink the plans to further reduce grant funding in future years, FBW is also seeking assurance and improved performance from the main navigation authorities regarding their maintenance and investment plans, especially given increased reports of failing infrastructure and rises in license fees. FBW is planning a series of meetings with navigation authorities. The first will be with the Chief Executive of the Canal & River Trust, Richard Parry, and his team 10th April. The CRT will address a series of questions that have been submitted by FBW, some of which were informed by British Marine members. Members of FBW will be able to view the meeting online and British Marine, including our President Elect and the Chairman of the British Marine Inland Boating, will be present at the meeting.

Early May will see FBW stepping up its campaign. First, with a series of activities across the country over the Bank Holiday weekend, including IWA’s annual Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice which this year will be shining a spotlight on FBW. Attention will then turn towards Westminster when, on Wednesday 8th May around 30 boats from different regions will travel in convoy up the River Thames and make their presence known to Parliament by sounding their horns and standing together off the Palace of Westminster. The boats, which will all be dressed with FBW banners, will be cheered on from supporters on Westminster Bridge who will also be talking to the public about the campaign.

Members of Parliament with inland waterways in their constituencies have been contacted about the event and asked to consider raising the issue in the House. They have also been invited to join leading representatives from FBW and others onboard a charter vessel immediately following Prime Minister’s Questions to view the boats from the water and learn more about the campaign.  The key message being that Britain’s inland waterways are an irreplaceable national asset, which generates numerous public benefits and should be safeguarded through more adequate public funding in the future. 

Maintaining the momentum of this campaign and increasing its effectiveness requires a wide range of expertise and voluntary support with the areas listed here. Please spread the word if you know of anyone who may be interested in helping FBW, even if it is only for a few hours a week!