Canal & River Trust hosted 12 NIWE delegates at our latest meeting held at The Cruising Association HQ in Limehouse Basin, London on 26 November 2019. Perrine Lavelle and Nicolas Delaporte were welcomed as our new representatives for VNF.
The meeting discussed progress with our Thematic groups: Communications & marketing, Commercialisation, Wellbeing, and Culture and heritage.
This was followed by presentations on local and national developments; Waterways Ireland reported significant investment on development and restoration of canals. VNF talked about their demographic analysis – the ageing profile of present regular water related tourism, with the need to develop new types of tourism to draw in and engage younger people. This includes more canoeing, water sports etc and is an issue shared with other NIWE members; De Vlaamse Waterweg, who reported on their collaboration between local communities and Sports Flanders, to develop canoeing, kayaking and rowing routes. The Province of Antwerp told how they are promoting cycling and boating holidays. Telemark are focusing on similar activity-based tourism, combining activities on both water and land.
The City of Ghent reported on the re-opening of the River Schelde following sustainable canal restoration and water in the historic city centre. Old industrial docks are being restored from the inner city of Ghent to Terneuzen Holland. This is generating house building around the area as well as a new marina. A new access project, creating lifts in the city centre, will make jetties more accessible for disabled people.
Chair, Danny Brennan reported back from the EU Cities and Regions (see previous news item)
Canal & River Trust reported that Green WIN is continuing to go well, and transnational co-operation is exceptional. The project has benefitted from professional assessments of CRT, VNF and Waterways Ireland current pump sites by the engineering consultancy, Arcadis.
Wouter Van Muysen of VLM (The Flemish Land Agency) told NIWE members about their role in Green WIN and how they are managing open space and promoting sustainable land development in Flanders. They are working with experts to produce a Land Development Plan which builds in an Eco-hydrological study part funded by Green WIN. This focuses on the “Mijn Mangelbeek”, an area natural wetlands and inherited problems caused by subsidence from old mine shifts (requiring ongoing pumping). The presentation was part of the Greener Waterways Network presentations programme being hosted by NIWE.
RIVER is at a crucial stage where trialling the oxyfuel combustion and carbon capture technologies should be happening. Agreement of the configuration of the whole technology / system before it can be fitted on to a CRT boat is still taking place. Once agreed the boat will be ready to fit out and start testing on UK canal(s)
The “From Isolation to Inclusion” (I2I) project was approved by the North Sea Region funders. CRT and Varmland are involved and will be demonstrating some waterway-based interventions, group activities, construction works, etc involving people at risk of ‘isolation’. The greater learning will be how to ‘persuade’ local health providers to embed such programmes in the services they offer. So, some excellent news!
On Day 2 of the meeting NIWE members visited the West India Dock Impounding Station which is vital to maintaining the water levels in the West India Dock complex and reducing the build-up of silt. The building and pump equipment housed there date back to 1929 and are still fully operational.
The next NIWE meeting will be on Tuesday 12th May, in Dublin.