Agenda item

Canal Management Report

Purpose of the report: To inform the Committee of actions taken by the Strategic Manager and BCA Canal Manager in managing, maintaining and operating the Canal; and report the work of the Conservation Steering Group.



Declarations of interest:






James Taylor, Strategic Manager, Basingstoke Canal Authority

Fiona Shipp, Canal Manager, Basingstoke Canal Authority


Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. Officers outlined the work that had been undertaken by the Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA) since November 2017. It was particularly noted that the lock gates scheduled in the cyclical replacement programme had been undertaken and that there had been a drain down of the St John’s Lock Flight undertaken for Principle Inspections. It was also noted that a bat hibernation survey and engineering inspection of Greywell Tunnel had been completed.

  2. Officers highlighted that ten tonnes of Signal crayfish had been removed from the canal as a means of pest control. It was noted that the Canal had an agreement with a fisherman who removed the crayfish gratis for the BCA, but that he kept all profits from selling. It was noted that the service was potentially reviewing this, but stressed that this was a pest control measure and not a profit making scheme. It was noted that levels of damage and reported numbers from crayfish had decreased significantly.

  3. Officers highlighted that there had been a boating accident at lock 18 involving irreparable damage to one of the lock gates. It was noted that this had resulted in closure of Deepcut lock flight for approximately 6-8 weeks.

  4. It was explained, after concerns were raised by Members, that there have been badger evictions that had been undertaken humanely and using appropriate means under the appropriate licences.

  5. Members raised concerns regarding cyclists and potential adverse effects of cyclists on other users of the canal, questioning whether there was potential for a campaign to slow cyclist speeds and increase awareness. Officers highlighted that cyclists use the towpath by permission and that the towpath was not a right of way. Officers also noted that they had been educating cyclist to slow and share the towpath under the “Share the Space, Drop your Pace” slogan for some time, and that there was funding available for additional signage, but that there had been little evidence of effect on a proportion of users. Officers noted that destination signing which had included times had been removed as previously requested by the Committee. Members suggested that there needed to be an effort to educate users regarding fair usage and safety. Members suggested that the Committee receive a further report on cycling strategies and issues raised from cyclists to a future meeting of the JMC.

  6. Officers noted the positive contribution of volunteers on the canal and that there had been a contribution of approximately £86,000 worth of volunteer hours on the Canal. Officers also offered congratulations to the Basingstoke Canal Society on achieving the Queens Award for Voluntary Service in 2018.

  7. It was explained that there had been a leak near Farnborough in May 2018 which was being repaired before the Air show.

  8. It was noted that there was work being undertaken on the campsite development agreed at the November 2017 meeting of the JMC, noting that the planning application was due for submission in the near future. It was noted that progress had been slower than expected due to the size of the site and the additional requirements resultant of this.

  9. Officers provided an update on the Conservation Steering Group (CSG) and the discussion held between stakeholders regarding issues in the renewal of this plan. One of the key issues discussed at CSG was in relation to powered boating and whether there could be any increase in the boating limit. It was stressed that Natural England have to agree this technical document and would be unlikely to suggest an increase to the powered boat limit due to concerns regarding silt displacement from boating being contributory to the continued decline of the status of the Canal as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).. Officers noted that the final plan agreed by Natural England would be submitted to the November JMC. Members noted that it would be helpful to have representation from Natural England present for discussion over their decisions in relation to the Conservation Management Plan.

  10. Members suggested inclusion of progress of discussions with the Canal and Rivers Trust in future reports.

  11. Members noted that the committee could consider options for clean air alternatives for boats on the canal and what options were available as part of a long term project.

  12. Members suggested that volunteers and the BCA should note that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) was promoting education for the environment, and that education about the benefits of the canal should be promoted. Members noted that District and Borough authorities could engage with volunteers on this issue.

  13. Members queried progress on the online booking system. Officers noted that this would take time to develop but that it was in progress.


Actions/ further information to be provided:


  1. That an item be included on a future agenda of the JMC regarding a cycling policy on the canal and the issues balance between cyclists and pedestrians.

  2. That Natural England representatives be explicitly invited to the November 2018 meeting of the JMC to discuss the conservation management plan. 

  3. That future Management reports include an update on the progress of talks with the Canal and Rivers Trust (CRT).




  1. None


Supporting documents: