Middle Level Bill passed in Commons

Middle Level river system LC will use published guidance from IWA to set the standards to which facilities must be provided. Credit: IWA

The Middle Level Bill to enable better waterway management powers and increased provision of facilities and moorings for waterways in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk has passed through the House of Commons for the final time.

Boats on the Middle Level river system, which comprises 100 miles of navigable waterways in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, will for the first time be subject to registration and the need to prove they have liability insurance and are compliant with current boat safety standards, said the Inland Waterways Association (IWA).

The new law, instigated in 2016 as a Private Bill by Middle Level navigation authority the Middle Level Commissioners (MLC), recognises leisure boating and will allow MLC to remove sunken or abandoned boats and generate income to be invested back into boating facilities.

MLC will use published guidance from IWA to set the standards to which facilities must be provided, with 25% of boating income to be invested for this purpose. MLC will also be able to register up-to-date bye-laws with DEFRA and establish a Navigation Committee.

Commissioners are currently looking at how they can introduce a scheme to promote greater public involvement in the preservation and enhancement of their waterways.

The Middle Level is a network of mainly man-made drains and rivers which keeps Fenland free from flooding. It broadly covers the area of land, much of it below sea level, between the Rivers Nene and Great Ouse.

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