Britain’s holidaymakers may have to alter their summer itineraries, as British Waterways, a UK government navigation authority for England, Scotland and Wales, may restrict the use of certain waterways and canals.
The canals and waterways are facing severe drought conditions, and the authorities have been forced to restrict water transportation on around 245 miles of its national network, with partial or total restriction of the waterways in places.
For holidaymakers, this may translate into changes in summer water cruise itineraries, with areas of Britain’s scenic waterways being blocked across the Midlands and the south. While the authorities have restricted traffic in some areas, certain places may be closed completely. Areas affected include parts of the Grand Union Canal, which links London to Birmingham, including the Leicester Line, and the Northampton and Aylesbury arms; as well as parts of the Oxford Canal in Warwickshire, and the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Bath, Somerset.
Tim Parker, chairman of the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators (APCO), an association of companies offering transportation on navigable canals and rivers in Britain, said, ‘The boating trade is pleased that British Waterways has put in place the plans to help protect water supplies and in turn our customers canal holiday and boat trips. Around the majority of the inland waterways network it is business as usual as the industry prepares for the boating season; water supplies are adequate and no overnight closures are envisaged across the vast majority of the network. APCO’s pleasure boat operators have experienced some extraordinary years with water supply difficulties before.’
The water shortages will also impact on the growing numbers of people who live on the waterways permanently. There are approximately thirty thousand boat owners in Britain, and more than one thousand- eight hundred boats available for hire.
Two dry winters in a row are blamed for the current stringent water restrictions.