As agent for the slipway application and as a trustee of the Avon Navigation Trust I am concerned that many of the objectors have seen fit to respond as if this slipway were part of a process to achieve some element of through navigation of the Warwickshire Avon from Warwick to Stratford. Whatever the Waterways Recovery Group volunteers may think and have stated, that is simply not true (last week’s Warwick Courier front page).
It may be wishful thinking on their part but the slipway is of no benefit to the construction or the operation of a through navigation. The slipway is however of benefit both in terms of safety and facility in launching and recovering those small boats that already operate on this reach of the river.
Its position next to the Warwick University Rowing Club also places it alongside the M40 Motorway near to Junction 15. I would contend that this is a prime area where easier and safer access to the river might well be of benefit in an emergency situation. The slipway site is approachable by 4wd vehicles in even the worst flooding situations. I speak as the Emergency Committee member for Barford parish, having just taken part in Operation Watermark. It may also be of note that ‘better access to the river’ and ‘expand the provision of recreational and sporting facilities’ are mentioned in the Action Plan list for Barford Parish Plan. The fact that the Avon Navigation Trust has itself made this application seems to have engendered some surprise. Whilst the volunteer Waterways Recovery Group provides the labour for such a task, a local group is expected to arrange plant, materials and any permissions required. With its wide experience of construction, the Avon Navigation Trust is well-placed to arrange this and to source the grants needed.
As well as the continuing work of the administration and maintenance of the navigation from near Alveston to the confluence with the Severn below Tewkesbury, the Avon Navigation Trust also becomes involved in the construction of both large and small projects, many in partnership with local councils and the Environment Agency. Examples include: weir safety barriers, parish moorings, canoe landing stages, canoe passes and fish passes.
In conclusion I would urge that this slipway, which has gained the approval of the Environment Agency, and which will improve the safety and ease of use of the boating that is already taking place on this reach of the river, should be supported. - Roger Clay, Barford.