Press release

Government confirms commitment to create new charity to protect Britain’s waterways

Government response to a consultation on proposals to move British Waterways from a public corporation to a new charity has been published.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Following a positive response to the initial consultation on the proposals, the Government has confirmed its commitment to the creation of a new waterways charity, subject to parliamentary approval.

The response provides a summary of the main points raised during the consultation, and explains how Defra and the Transition Trustees of the new charity will take things forward.

Key points addressed in the response include:

  • More detail on how Government will work with the charity to secure and safeguard public benefits, including free access to the towpaths, protecting heritage and local wildlife;
  • Naming the ‘Local Partnerships’ that will be responsible for managing waterways at a regional level as ‘Waterways Partnerships’ to reflect their strategic role and size, with each Partnership developing a strategy for local engagement;
  • Confirmation that the new charity’s council will have fair representation from all interested groups, with a view over time to having half of the council appointed through elections,
  • Creation of an All-Wales Partnership, with representation from interested groups in Wales and a place for its Chair on the council.

A further short consultation to give more information and seek views on the transfer of legal powers and obligations from British Waterways to the new charity was also launched today.

This consultation provides further information about the legislation which currently relates to British Waterways, where amendments to legislation are necessary, and invites comments on the proposals specified. The consultation will close on 24 October 2011.


  1. The consultation ‘A New Era for the Waterways’, closed on 30 June 2011.
  2. The Government Response can be found here
  3. The consultation on the Transfer Order provisions can be found here
Published 12 September 2011