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The Prescott Channel Scam

Massimo Allamandola has at last been able to bring to my attention the report, which I have attached below, about the response in Nov 2005, by the 'Regents Network' of canal users to British Waterways proposal to impound the River Lea by building a 'Water Control Structure' at Prescott Channel.

Despite having consulted widely among local activists about the impoundment of the River Lea this is the first time that someone has brought this report to my attention whereby I have had an opportunity to read it.

I recommend reading it. It makes clear the outrageous extent of the scam they are getting away with by having already commenced work on this structure. It is also apparent why British Waterways were being so cagey with a group of us at the beginning of the year about when they were going to start work. See River Lea Impounded

It is also apparent why Richard Rutter of British Waterways was so sensitive about my saying to him that the main purpose of the impoundment was to create the so called 'Water City' in Newham with its lucrative opportunities for property development at the side of the new canal.

This report titled;
was published in November 2005

I have reproduced below its introduction in its entirety

Martin Slavin


Seriously flawed

Regents Network considers the proposal by British Waterways for a new lock in Prescott Channel is seriously flawed and is being proposed for indirect motives that are not waterway related. The lock will not be a major solution for the construction of the Olympic facilities, and will not provide the most advantageous legacy.

The most practical way to get the Olympic construction freight on to water would be to re-commission Bow Locks, and return the semi-tidal regime to the Lee Navigation. Add the use of the major commercial route through Limehouse, and the Olympic construction can be fully serviced by water.

Motives to be investigated

Why construct an expensive new lock that will do no more than the existing lock? Why spend so many millions? What is British Waterways up to? It is important to consider why British Waterways are suggesting this scheme and why they are making out that it is for freight when it appears to be flawed from the water freight perspective.

`We consider their motive is more likely to be encouragement and promotion of building development, and not for navigational purposes. This would be in line with BWs present prime role in London which seems to be a concentration on property development rather than as a navigation authority. For instance, British Waterways want a number of small basins in the area which are too small for flood relief, but are “to act as nodes for waterside development” (Atkins 7.8). Note, waterside development, not waterway development.

Greatest threat to our waterways

One of the most serious problems for our waterways is excessive and insensitive property development. Regents Network does not oppose property development, in fact it can be a great advantage to an area providing it is carried out in a thoughtful way. It needs to be carefully planned with knowledge and understanding of the valuable characteristics of the waterway to ensure any impact on the waterway is reduced.

The London Plan

The importance of the waterways in our capital city is featured as the ‘Blue Ribbon Network’ in the London Plan. A key policy is ‘Design – Starting from the Water’ (4C.20) so that developers should ensure their buildings ‘integrate successfully with the water space’. Water freight is encouraged (4C.14), and there are concerns about impounding (4C.5) and ecology.

Silting is not the problem

One of the main sources of opposition to opening Bow Locks again comes from British Waterways, and they claim that returning to the semi-tidal regime will cause silting up of the Lee Navigation. They keep on emphasising this. What BW do not say is that the silting is caused because many years ago they themselves closed off the original water management system of locks and sluices. Once this is put back again (not a great expense), all will be well.

Waterway Advisers

Who are the waterway advisers for the Olympic delivery proposals? It is important that there is a wide waterways representation which includes the operators and waterway specialists. British Waterways of course should be included, but only in their role as a navigation authority. No one wants regeneration of the Lower Lea Valley to be property developer led. There is a strong waterway lobby which will provide all the expertise that is needed, and it must be made certain that everyone is working together for the Olympics and a great Legacy.

Del Brenner, The Regents Network

The Regents Network supports use of water freight for the Olympics and a worthwhile Legacy for the Lower Lea

The Lea in Good Hands.pdf604.37 KB
Prescott Channel Water Control Structure Project Explanatory Statement.pdf853.31 KB

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