The Independent London Newspaper


Raft of new measures to cut canal noise and ease tension between boaters and homeowners

Cllr Martin Klute.

Cllr Martin Klute.

Published: 22 November, 2013

THE Regent’s Canal in Islington is to be turned into a “quiet zone” in a bid to dampen down the squabbling between boaters and homeowners who live along its banks.

A raft of measures is being introduced on the busiest stretch of the canal following complaints of smoke, engine noise and late-night revelling.

But Councillor Martin Klute, who last month handed in a petition calling on the Canal and River Trust to take more action against the boaters, said they did not go far enough.

The measures follow a month of consultation between the council, boat owners and residents. They include:

• making Islington visitor moorings a quiet zone, including limiting engine and generator noise to background level;
• daily weekday sightings of boats by the Trust’s enforcement team, with prompt warning letters when boaters are staying too long or behaving anti-socially;
• mooring to be kept to a single line of boats in winter, with a maximum of two abreast in the summer;
• recruiting monthly rotating “caretaker boaters” who will advise and provide information to boaters, report local incidents, and liaise with residents and agencies;
• two new part-time mooring rangers on the towpath, including at weekends, to provide information, raise awareness of boating protocols, and implement mooring rules.

It is hoped the measures will encourage a greater turnover of boats – mooring on the canal is free as long as the boats are on a “continuous journey”, which effectively means they have to move on every fortnight.

“Boats have been part of the fabric of Islington life since the Regent’s Canal was dug 200 years ago,” said Sorwar Ahmed, boating liaison manager at Canal & River Trust. “Just as a house needs heating and lighting, boaters need to keep themselves warm and to generate electricity.

In busy locations such as Islington, this can cause tensions with the people who live alongside the canal, as engine noise and smoke is part of life on the cut.

The majority of boaters follow the requirements of keeping noise to an acceptable level, not running their generators between 8pm and 8am, and only burning clean fuel.

“However, there are some people who don’t stick to these rules and we hope our new plans will make them think and change their behaviour.”

Cllr Klute said he welcomed the fact that the Trust was taking action but added: “We have established beyond doubt that the smoke, fumes and engine noise generated by some canal boats would be illegal if the environmental standards that apply everywhere else in London were also applied on the waterways.

“I believe it is time for environmental standards on the waterways to be brought into line with current standards for the rest of London.

“These proposals also don’t acknowledge the wider issues of unlicensed boats and the high levels of anti-social behaviour being experienced in the area.”

Ian Shacklock, who chairs the Friends of the Regent’s Canal, said the measures would not work as the issue was of residential mooring on that stretch of the canal.

“It’s meant for visitors only,” he said. “If boats were only allowed to stay for a maximum of 48 hours none of these issues would arise.”


In defence of boaters...

...I would say that far too many people in this area seem to have the impression that they are entitled to all the benefits of living in such a pleasant spot, but likewise they don't think that boaters have the same entitlement.
Give and take has to be two way traffic; if only the two factions would get their heads together and sort out an amicable solution to the problem, then there wouldn't be any need for all this plaver and Cllr Klune could go back to sleep.

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