Agenda item


Purpose of the report: To inform the Committee of actions taken by the Strategic Manager in drafting and gaining approval from Natural England for the new Conservation Management Plan.



Declarations of interest:





James Taylor, Strategic Manager BCA
Fiona Shipp, Canal Manager BCA


Key points raised during the discussion:


  1. Officers explained that 90% of the canal is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and that, resultant of this, the owning authorities had a duty to protect and enhance this status.

  2. It was explained by officers that there was a requirement to implement a conservation management plan in order to ensure that conservation of the SSSI was considered and to satisfy the regulator. It was highlighted that, if no management plan was in place, there would be a need to negotiate with the regulator for most of the canal’s business. Officers explained that the plan was in need of review as the last iteration had come to the end of its ten-year life. .

  3. It was explained that the Conservation Management Plan was a technical document developed in partnership with the BCA, Basingstoke Canal Society (BCS), Natural England and other experts as part of the Conservation Steering Group.

  4. It was noted that the agreed Conservation Management Plan had been formally Assented by Natural England. The representative from Natural England stressed that they had confidence in the report and that it was a good compromise between conservation and recreation interests.

  5. Members from the BCS noted the powered boat limit and stressed that in some areas of the canal there may be a potential for increasing the limit. It was suggested by the BCS that conservation efforts should not constrain financial viability. Officers and Natural England stressed that the limit on powered boat movements was agreed at the upper limit to ensure commercial viability and that they felt that this was adequate to retain commercial viability whilst ensuring  that the SSSI was maintained. Officers explained that the formula of the upper limit of boat movements was contained in an appendix to within the plan, based on a piece of research published previously by Dr Eaton (a leading botanist and former advisor to the CSG).

  6. Members questioned what the effects of increased boat movements would be on the SSSI. Officers explained that boat movements had the effected of displacing silt material on the bed, which increased turbidity and restricted sunlight to plants and aquatic life. It was also noted that it had the potential to reduce vegetation width across the canal, cause bank erosion and damage submerged plants.

  7. Members questioned whether the SSSI was deteriorating and whether it would be considered to be an SSSI in the future. The representative from Natural England stressed that the canal was a site of national importance. An SSSI could be de-notified where the protected features had ceased to exist through natural processes, but it was very unlikely that Basingstoke Canal SSSI would be de-notified in the foreseeable future.

  8. It was noted that the BCA had applied for some funding through the Water Environment Grant to aid the authority to undertake its conservation priorities.





  1. That the Joint Management Committee noted the report


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