Anglers who are also boaters can help shape the future of some of England’s most popular navigable rivers by taking part in a far-reaching Environment Agency survey.

Stuart Taylor, National Navigation Manager, said: “Our in-depth survey aims to gather a wide spectrum of views ranging from what people think about waterside facilities on rivers managed by the Environment Agency to where boaters would like to see their registration fees spent.

“Everyone knows that keeping rivers safe and navigable is costly. Over the past winter we spent a record £10 million on vital repairs and improvements to sites, structures and services, such as locks, moorings, toilets and fresh water points.

“In total, we currently spend around £18 million a year keeping the 1,000km of waterway we look after open for business. But we don’t have big enough coffers to do everything. We need to find new sources of funding and make hard choices about how we spend what we have. We need to look at all the things we do and ensure we are providing value for money. Everyone who uses our rivers will have opinions about what is working and what needs improving – and we want to hear them through this survey.”

More than 20,000 boaters registered to use Environment Agency-managed waterways such as the River Thames, the Medway and the River Great Ouse, have been contacted to encourage them to take part in the study. But Stuart Taylor says he hopes others, from towpath ramblers and anglers to people who live beside navigable rivers, will also get involved.

“Walkers will be concerned about facilities while enforcement issues, such as how we deal with rowdy boaters out-of -hours, will be important to riverside residents,” Stuart Taylor said.

Among the questions the survey asks is: ‘What services are most important to you on the river?’ 
   
Stuart Taylor added: “The feedback will be invaluable for helping us decide our funding priorities for the long-term future.”

Further information and copies of the Navigation Funding Strategy Customer Research Project can be found at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/navigation An online discussion forum has also been set up for people to air and share views about inland waterway issues which can be found on the same section of the Environment Agency’s website.

To access both the survey and the forum requires a username and password. Boaters who hold Environment Agency registrations have already been sent their details but the survey is open to all and if you want to take part just e-mail Ipsos MORI at navigation@ipsos-mori.com who will provide a username and password. Hard copies of the survey can be obtained by calling 020 7347 3000.                                                                                        

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