Recent news of Inland Waterway interest:

Over the last 2 weeks, CBOA member the Esprit Group Trafford Docks in Manchester has welcomed 3 large ships bringing oversize & overweight project freight up the Manchester Ship Canal from destinations such as Croatia & Germany.

In late May, the m/v Hendrik S brought 3 large 35 tonne silo’s from Rotterdam into the heart of Manchester, via the Manchester Ship Canal. These were fabricated in Germany, destined for the Heineken factory in central Manchester. The massive silos left Esprit’s Trafford Docks, one each night at 1am, escorted by 4 GM Police bikes & traffic car plus a wide load support vehicle. The 4 mile journeys each took 2 hours, often travelling on the wrong side of dual carriageways in order to negotiate roundabouts & tight bends. Tram lines had to be lifted by TfGM & street furniture temporarily removed by Trafford Council.

In early June, the m/v Eems Transporter brought another 4 silos into Trafford Park, again all destined for the Heineken site. Another 3 nights of police escorts and great teamwork from Sarens Cranes, Finnie Heavy Haulage, GM Police, KeolisMetrolink, TfGM and Heineken, all under the management of Park Project Freight, saw everything again delivered safely and on time without causing any traffic disruption.

Immediately after the Eems Transporter left berth, the m/v Hendrik S returned to Esprit’s Trafford Docks, this time carrying a 128.5 tonne electricity transformer. The transformer started its journey in Croatia as part of a larger consignment of transformers & equipment aboard the m/v Eems Servant. This transformer was then transhipped onto the Hendrik S in Liverpool for the final leg up the Manchester Ship Canal to Trafford Park. Colletts Heavy Haulage were entrusted with project managing the big lift, using a 550 tonne strut-jib crane from Ainscough Cranes, & transport to a site in Rochdale. This time the final leg of the journey by road left Trafford Park at 6am on Sunday morning, requiring 5 GM Police bikes & a traffic car plus a wide load support vehicle, travelling at 10mph for the short trip via the M60, M66, through Bury & into a particularly tight access site in Rochdale.

Had these huge oversize & overweight cargo’s needed to travel to Manchester by road from a coastal port, the traffic chaos & congestion would have been immense. Thanks to companies such as Heineken recognising the great asset we have with the Manchester Ship Canal and choosing this as their preferred method of bringing oversize freight into Manchester, serious congestion was avoided and the much greener alternative was used.

It’s vital we continue to use the Manchester Ship Canal as much as possible to ensure it remains open for freight. Esprit Warehousing & Docks, who operate the Trafford Docks in Manchester, and the canal owners Peel Ports are working closely together to identify new business opportunities for freight on the canal. So it’s fantastic to see this hard work from both companies bearing fruit more & more.

CBOA Chairman David Lowe said “ The success of these movements demonstrates what the Manchester Ship Canal and our member Esprit Warehousing & Docks can offer in taking not only abnormal indivisible loads right into the centre of Manchester but also other cargoes whether by ship or by barge. This not only helps to reduce congestion along a busy corridor but also accidents, and emissions thus improving the quality of life for all. We congratulate all involved for their imagination, resourcefulness and success in utilising what many would regard as the UK’s premier waterway.”

  • 160621-cboa-1
  • 160621-cboa-1
  • 160621-cboa-3
  • 160621-cboa-4


Attend this vital update for the rail freight sector on 6th October and explore the most recent opportunities and issues facing the industry and discover how to respond to them.

Click here to read more about the event

Green recognition for Thames operators

The first Thames Green Scheme accreditations, recognising vessel owners’ efforts to protect the environment, have been awarded to Kent-based GPS Marine and Jetstream Tours (20 April 2021).

Launched by the Port of London Authority (PLA) last year, the initiative aims to help operators on the river in their work to improve their vessels’ green performance.

Contracting company, GPS Marine, active along the length of the tidal Thames, is the first recipient of a silver award, while Rochester-based Jetstream Tours has been recognised with a bronze award.

GPS Marine’s silver status reflects its pioneering work to trial technologies reducing emissions on the river, including the adoption of greener alternative diesel across its fleet of 16 tugs and the installation of post-combustion cleaning equipment. The company has also committed to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2040 and supports the litter charity Thames21.


Read Green recognition for Thames operators article here

artists' impression

New cargo interchange for Aire & Calder
12 April 2021

Detailed plans have been announced for a new trimodal (combined barge, rail and road) interchange at the former Kellingley Colliery site alongside the Aire & Calder Navigation. Called Konect, and being developed by the Harworth Group, the site will include over one million square feet of industrial and logistics space. The project received outline planning approval in 2019, but now the details have been unveiled. The Commercial BoatOperators Association and the Canal & River Trust are supporting Harworth on the project.The 141-acre site will handle 700-yard-long freight trains, include a wharf that will be long and deep enough for the largest Aire & Calder barges, and accommodate a 28mW energy-from-waste power station in-between the canal and rail line. The waste could be brought in by train or barge, and ash removed in the same way. A small detail on the plan that looks like an inlet from the Aire & Calder is actually a Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) pond, which will collect and control excess rain water from the site. Kellingley Colliery, which opened in 1965, was the last deep coal mine in Britain and closed in 2015. For 50 years barges loaded coal here for Ferrybridge power stations. The site also links to the M62 and A1(M). The new plan includes a promise by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to provide over 39,000ft2 of industrial units for small businesses. Chris Davidson , associate director at Harworth Group which is leading the project, told WW he is keen to make as much use of the Aire & Calder Navigation as possible, and is interested in hearing from waterwaysrelated businesses (either carrying or industrial, such as boat-builders) who want a presence on the waterway.

stanley quarry

New quarry and wharf for Aire & Calder at Stanley Ferry

Wakefield Borough Council has granted planning permission for a new canalside gravel quarry on the the Aire & Calder Navigation, along with a wharf to service it. The quarry will be sited at Stanley Ferry, close to the Canal & River Trust’s lock gate workshops near Wakefield. It will produce aggregates for the Newlay Concrete Group, and there is a commitment in the application that it will all be carried by barge, possibly to Newlay’s base near Leeds.  The plan estimates that around 1.6m tons can be quarried from 54 acres over two sites – Birkwood and Smalley Bight – straddling a winding bend in the River Calder. The project will take around a decade, after which the two holes in the ground will be turned into fi shing lakes.  This would be the first time the Wakefield branch of the Aire & Calder Navigation traffic since the transport of aggregates ended in 2013. Prior to that, barges stopped taking oil to nearby power stations in the 1990s and coal shipments to Ferrybridge power station ceased in the 1980s. In addition, the parties are discussing the feasibility of
a fleet of all-electric barges especially for the new quarry, to serve Newlay’s main works at Thornhill near Dewsbury. These would need to be built to the conventional 57ft 6in by 14ft Calder & Hebble lock gauge. This could be the fi rst Calder & Hebble traffi c since the Hargreaves coal run to Thornhill power station ceased in 1981. The quarry application was strongly opposed locally, but the Canal & River Trust, Inland Waterways Association and Commercial Boat Operators Association all supported it. More information is available at


Articles published by kind permission of Waterways World.


GPS Anglia delivering 700t of aggregate to Pier Wharf Wandsworth

11 March 2021

The Commercial Boat Operators Association has warmly welcomed the Government’s decision not to impose stringent fuel duty increases on Britain’s water freight industry.
In its response to a formal consultation process, the Government said:

When assessing cases made for continued entitlement to use red diesel [with a lower duty rate]on the grounds that removing it could lead to perverse environmental outcomes, the water freight sector made persuasive arguments about the potential for modal shift if their fuel costs rose. As a result, the Government accepts that losing the entitlement to use red diesel would have a material impact on the sector’s competitiveness when compared with road haulage, and that this could encourage a shift to more polluting road freight

Said David Lowe, CBOA Chairman: “We are very pleased that the Government has listened to our case that increasing fuel duty would risk materially adversely affecting the industry and risk forcing goods traffic onto congested polluted roads.”
Mr Lowe continued: “At a time when we are seeing signs of a revival in barge use – viz more construction related traffic in London and a new Hull/Leeds service taking sea-dredged aggregates – this was not the time to hit the industry with extra costs”.
The proposed fuel duty increase would have been from 11p a litre to 58p a litre for the duty alone, an increase of over 400%. The impact on operating costs varies per vessel but would have been between 5-15%. In an industry with low profit margins, these costs would have had to be passed on. This could well have resulted in customers deciding to move to road – which would be a classic example of the “law of unintended consequences”.
“The barge industry is not resting on its environmental credentials”, said Mr Lowe. “Some of our Members are fitting more efficient engines and using hydrogen treated vegetable oil (Green D+) as a replacement for red diesel. This reduces overall emissions by about 86% and much reduces the carbon output per litre of fuel used. One of our members has just started a special Green D+ tanker barge service on the Thames to enable tugs and barges to use more environmentally friendly fuel.”
The CBOA was particularly concerned about the potential impact on the operators of narrow boats in the Midlands (and elsewhere) who supply domestic fuel and other products to those living on boats or near a waterway. They faced an increase in fuel costs of 85% with the threatened extra fuel duty added.  “Happily,” said Mr Lowe, “this threat has now gone.”
CBOA notes that following the Government’s decision, it has decided to leave unchanged the present arrangements for pleasure craft.


Other extracts from the Government’s response are as follows.

As the government has been persuaded by the cases made by representatives of the water freight sector and passenger ferries, the government has decided to maintain the entitlement to use red diesel for the whole commercial boat operating industry, regardless of whether they are operating on the UK’s rivers and other inland waterways or out at sea, to avoid ports and marinas needing to supply two types of fuel, which would otherwise have been necessary in some cases. Whilst commercial boats undertaking journeys within the limits of a port or at sea, including ferries and fishing boats, will remain entitled to the Marine Voyages Relief, maintaining their red diesel entitlement will avoid fuel suppliers having to offer two types of fuel where marinas/ports serve inland and seagoing vessels.

Following consultation, the government has decided to maintain the entitlement to use red diesel beyond April 2022 for all commercial boat operating industries, including but not limited to the fishing and inland water freight industries.

The government has therefore decided not to change the treatment of private pleasure craft in Great Britain, where they will continue to be able to use red diesel and pay their fuel supplier the difference between the red diesel rate and the white diesel rate on the proportion they intend to use for propulsion.


Please see attached photo of 700 tonnes of aggregates on passage to Wandsworth, west London , removing 35 lorries carrying 20 tonnes each from London’s congested streets (credit: GPS Marine)

Press enquiries should be made to:
David Lowe, CBOA Chairman on 07785-502478
John Dodwell, CBOA Marketing/Corporate and Public Affairs on 07802-961485


Trade enquiries should be made to:
For the North: Maik Brown (Business Development – Northern Area) on 07831-572601
For the South: John Dodwell – as above


Note for Editors

  1. The CBOA is the national trade association for barge operators and those involved in infrastructure maintenance. Accordingly, its officers are drawn from member companies and may or may not have an interest in the matters the subject of this Press Statement.
  2. Many of the UK’s canals are small and now mainly used for leisure. Narrow boats taking up to 20 tonnes each provide fuel and other services for residential and leisure boat owners, and waterside properties. They also deliver to and work on waterside construction sides and undertake niche deliveries, including “last mile” deliveries in urban areas.
  1. The scope for significant movement of good from lorry to water lies mainly in the waterways in and around the four main English estuaries – the Thames/Medway; the Humber (including the Aire & Calder Navigation to Leeds; the South Yorkshire Navigation to Rotherham); the River Trent to Nottingham; the Mersey (including the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Weaver to Winsford; the Severn up to Worcester.

These waterways are used by barges taking between 1,500 tonnes and 200 tonnes each, taking 150 and 20 respectively return lorry journeys off the roads.

  1. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change (Manchester University) reported that barge engine emissions can be 25% of those from lorries. In addition, lorries create damaging dust particulates from brake pads, from tyre wear and from road surface wear. None of these arise with barges. Using barges improves the environment and people’s sense of well-being.

DHL PARCEL SERVICE ON THE THAMESCBOA welcome the news that DHL Express, the parcels delivery service, have joined up with Thames Clippers (who run a passenger service on the River Thames in London). As a result, a water borne parcels delivery service will operate between Wandsworth in west London to central London. Delivery to the boat is by electric vehicle as is the onward delivery to the final destination. This is part of DHL’s GoGreen initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CBOA is pleased to see this development of the concept of our urban waterways being used as part of the “Last Mile” delivery concept, avoiding road traffic and fumes in city centres.

CILT Merseyside & Warrington Group event - Friday 13th November at 3pm on-line and ITS (UK) Thursday 19th November at 3pm on-line.

Both with a Water Freight theme

For more information click here

A 500 tonnes capacity barge on route from Hull to Leeds with sea- dredged aggregates. This can replace 18 lorries each taking 28 tonnes.CBOA is calling for fuel duty on diesel for water freight to be treated in the same way as for rail freight. The Government proposes to exempt rail freight from proposed diesel fuel duty increases because it fears the resultant cost increase would drive traffic onto roads, the opposite of what the Government wants.

“The reasons why rail freight should be exempted from the diesel fuel duty are just as valid for the barge industry,” said CBOA Chairman David Lowe. “I am amazed the Government did not realise that.”

He added that at a time at a time when there were signs of revival in barge use, for example construction related traffic in London and a new Hull/Leeds service taking sea-dredged aggregates, this was not the time to hit the industry with extra costs.
The proposed diesel fuel duty increase from 11p a litre to 58p a litre would be an increase of more than 400%. The impact on operating costs varies per vessel but would be between 5-15%. In an industry with low profit margins, those costs would have to be passed on. This could well result in customers deciding to move to road, which would be a classic example of the ‘law of unintended consequences’.

The barge industry would be affected in various ways. Those operating on inland waterways would have to pay the whole increased fuel duty. Those operating on tidal waters would continue to enjoy the Maritime Voyages 100% Relief. However, both groups would suffer from an increase in VAT from 5% (on red diesel) to 20% (on white diesel). Although recoverable, business would have to find the cash to pay the extra VAT before they got it back. For one CBOA member, this could be as much as £102,000 per quarter.

The CBOA is particularly concerned about the potential impact on the owners of narrow boats in the Midlands (and elsewhere) who supply domestic fuel and other products to those living in boats or near a waterway. They face an increase in fuel costs from 55p per litre with the existing 11p a litre fuel duty to 102p per litre with the proposed 58p a litre duty – an 85% increase.

The problem would evaporate if the CBOA’s call for equal treatment with rail – exemption – was met.

“The barge industry is not, however, resting on its environmental credentials of being far less polluting than lorries,” said Mr Lowe. “Some of our members are fitting more efficient engines and using hydrogen treated vegetable oil (Green D+) as a replacement for red diesel. This reduces overall emissions by about 86% and much reduces the carbon output per litre of fuel used. But it will take time to move to new fuels and expensive new engines may be needed. In the meantime, a savage increase in fuel costs could drive traffic onto the roads. ”

CBOA has submitted its formal response to the Government’s consultation.
“We do not want the government to pour cold water on the barge industry,” said Mr Lowe.

Please see photos of a barge attached (credit: Maik Brown), which has just started the new Hull/Leeds service.

Further information:

David Lowe, CBOA Chairman on 07785-502478
John Dodwell, CBOA Marketing/Corporate and Public Affairs on 07802-961485


  1. The CBOA is the national trade association for barge operators and those involved in infrastructure maintenance. Accordingly, its officers are drawn from member companies and may or may not have an interest in the matters the subject of this Press Statement.
  2. In the March Budget, the Government announced proposals to increase diesel fuel duty from 11p a litre to 58p a litre for non-road users, subject to a consultation. The subsequent consultation has just closed. Those already given exemption include the agricultural and rail sectors. Diesel bearing duty at 11p a litre is commonly called “red diesel” with diesel with duty at 58p a litre is commonly called “white diesel” – as used in cars. The Government’s stated objective is to encourage “red diesel” users – e.g. the construction industry – to switch to other types of fuel. Whilst CBOA welcomes the longer term opportunity to use non-diesel fuels, it sees a serious time lag before they will be available and usable. In the meantime, the risk is that the cost of carrying goods by water will be increased by the diesel fuel increase and lead to an increase in lorry traffic – contrary to Government policies about modal shift.
  3. Many of the UK’s canals are small and now mainly used for leisure. Narrow boats taking up to 20 tonnes each provide fuel and other services for residential and leisure boat owners, and waterside properties. They also deliver to and work on waterside construction sides and undertake niche deliveries, including “last mile” deliveries in urban areas.
  4. The scope for significant movement of good from lorry to water lies mainly in the waterways in and around the four main English estuaries – the Thames/Medway; the Humber (including the Aire & Calder Navigation to Leeds; the South Yorkshire Navigation to Rotherham); the River Trent to Nottingham; the Mersey (including the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Weaver to Winsford; the Severn up to Worcester.
    These waterways are used by barges taking between 1,500 tonnes and 200 tonnes each, taking 150 and 20 respectively return lorry journeys off the roads.
  5. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change (Manchester University) reported that barge engine emissions can be 25% of those from lorries. In addition, lorries create damaging dust particulates from brake pads, from tyre wear and from road surface wear. None of these arise with barges. Using barges improves the environment and people’s sense of well-being.

Photo shows a 500 tonnes capacity barge on route from Hull to Leeds with sea- dredged aggregates. This can replace 18 lorries each taking 28 tonnes.

Commenting on the news that sea dredged aggregates have been delivered by barge from Hull to Leeds for the first time, Tom Riordan, Leeds City Council’s Chief Executive said:

“Using barges to transport goods brings with it a range of extremely positive environmental benefits, which is why as a council, we’ve worked incredibly hard to both protect and safeguard our waterways and wharves in Leeds through planning policy.

“It is great therefore to see this new barge traffic route carrying marine dredged aggregates now in operation from Hull to Leeds, This type of announcement will we hope encourage more businesses and organisations that are committed to reducing their environmental footprint, to investigate the possibility of transporting more of their goods by barge on our waterways in the future. Not only will one barge journey take the equivalent of 18 articulated lorries carrying 28 tonnes off the road on a daily basis which is huge, it will also play its part in reducing carbon emissions and air pollution. If we are to make Leeds carbon neutral by 2030, there is no doubt that alternative and greener transport options such as barges are going to have an important part to play.”

“We welcome the support from Tom Riordan”, said CBOA’s chairman David Lowe. “ Leeds have been great with their planning policies supporting water freight and I’m delighted this has borne fruit”

WATERWAY WORKSHOPThere has been substantial progress in technological innovation and programme development around improving inland shipping performance and air quality since we hosted London’s first Greening Inland Shipping conference last year. To help us all keep up with developments, you are invited to join a webinar at 10 am GMT on Thursday, 5 November 2020.


This webinar is free to attend.

For more information click here

You can book for this event online

The Commercial Boat Operators Association is delighted that a new barge traffic carrying marine dredged aggregates has started from Hull to Leeds. The 500 tonnes capacity barge arrived at Knostrop, east Leeds, yesterday.

This is the culmination of many years’ hard work by various groups. It started with Leeds City Council’s minerals planning policy decision to safeguard from unsuitable developments a number of wharves in the City, including ones at Knostrop and at Stourton so they could be used to unload aggregates and other cargoes. Behind this lay a wish to see more use of marine dredged aggregates in Leeds and West Yorkshire rather than from inland quarries with consequential road haulage.

The use of marine dredged aggregates (from the North Sea) is a sustainable activity as nature replenished the deposits at sea. Not so with land based supplies.
The use of 500 tonne capacity barges and thus avoiding using heavy vehicles from inland quarries will be beneficial for the environment. Each barge will take off the crowded M62 18 articulated lorries carrying 28 tonnes. Barges emit 75% less CO2 than heavy lorries. They cause less dust and less noise than lorries. Barges can help Leeds City Council in its efforts to improve air pollution and improve the well-being of its citizens.

The combination of using marine dredged aggregates and of using barges for transport to Leeds is a “win/win” for the environment. With increased construction activity expected in Leeds and West Yorkshire, this is a very good time to be using barges to bring aggregates and other construction materials into Leeds.

CBOA chairman David Lowe said: “We have worked hard with Leeds City Council planners to create the basis for increased use by barges of the waterways of Leeds and the surrounding area. Today is the realisation of many years’ efforts. We are delighted that the use of barges creates the opportunity to reduce air pollution in Leeds by negating the need for HGVs and improve the well-being of its citizens. The proposed inland Port of Leeds at Stourton will increase the opportunities for more barge use.”
Andy Collins of AC Marine Aggregates, the company whose aggregates have been brought to Leeds, said “The use of barges from Hull means we can enter a new market for us – the area around Leeds and into West Yorkshire. We have been bringing sea dredged aggregates into Hull for some years to serve the local markets. We are grateful to the CBOA and their member firms for enabling us to turn into a reality our hopes to improve the environment by using “green” transport and extending the use of aggregates from a sustainable source.”

The area being used at Knostrop is about one-tenth of an acre and is seen as a temporary phase. The Canal & River Trust’s wider ambitions are to see the development of a 10 acre site at Stourton on the outskirts of east Leeds. Full planning permission has been obtained and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority have offered £3.17m towards the costs. The Trust is now seeking the balance of the funds required. The business plan is based on moving 200, 000 tonnes a year of marine aggregates – the equivalent of 8 barges a week

Please see photos of the barge attached (credit: Maik Brown)

Further information is available from

David Lowe, CBOA Chairman on 07785-502478

John Dodwell, CBOA Marketing/Corporate and Public Affairs on 07802-961485

Note for Editors:

  1. The CBOA is the national trade association for barge operators and those involved in infrastructure maintenance. Accordingly, its officers are drawn from member companies and may or may not have an interest in the matters the subject of this Press Statement.
  2. Many of the UK’s canals are small and now mainly used for leisure. Narrow boats taking up to 20 tonnes each provide fuel and other services for residential and leisure boat owners, and waterside properties. They also deliver to and work on waterside construction sides and undertake niche deliveries, including “last mile” deliveries in urban areas.
  3. The scope for significant movement of good from lorry to water lies mainly in the waterways in and around the four main English estuaries – the Thames/Medway; the Humber (including the Aire & Calder Navigation to Leeds; the South Yorkshire Navigation to Rotherham); the River Trent to Nottingham; the Mersey (including the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Weaver to Winsford; the Severn up to Worcester.
    These waterways are used by barges taking between 1,500 tonnes and 200 tonnes each, taking 150 and 20 respectively return lorry journeys off the roads.
  4. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change (Manchester University) reported that barge engine emissions can be 25% of those from lorries. In addition, lorries create damaging dust particulates from brake pads, from tyre wear and from road surface wear. None of these arise with barges. Using barges improves the environment and people’s sense of well-being.

A 500 tonnes capacity barge en route from Hull to Leeds with sea- dredged aggregates.

Unloading a 500 tonnes capacity barge in Leeds that brought sea-dredged aggregates from Hull.

Using Canals for TransportThe Commercial Boat Operators’ Association today welcomed the remarks by Rebecca Pow, MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, about “starting to get freight back on to the waterways. With the move to net zero and to cleaner air, this is actually a huge asset, and we are starting to realise that canals can have a rebirth as transport links.” The Minister was speaking during on Adjournment Debate last Thursday about canals and their restoration.

The CBOA has for long pointed out the environmental benefits of using water freight – and in reducing road congestion. The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change (Manchester University) reported that CO2 from barges can be 25% of that produced by lorries. Other emissions – such as nitrous oxide - are less. Even if lorry engines improve and were to be wholly electric based, there would still be dangerous particulates from brake pads and tyre wear and road surface wear. None of these arise from using barges. Congestion on roads would not be reduced by electric lorries – using barges would.

David Lowe, CBOA’s chairman, said: “I am very pleased that a DEFRA Minister is now realising that water freight can enable cleaner air and that the inland waterways are a huge asset in making this to happen. WE call on the Minister to work with navigation authorities in improving relevant waterways to enable waterborne tonnages to increase. It is noteworthy that last month global figures from the Carbon Disclosure Project showed a 24% increase in business demanding that their suppliers publish environmental date about how their goods were transported.”

Barges (see photo attached) have been/are being used on the Thames in London to remove spoil from (a) the Elizabeth Line; (b) the Northern Line extension; and (c) the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Barges were also used to bring in concrete tunnel segments  A summary of those works shows a reduction of 7,200 tonnes of carbon production compared to normal lorry movements; 158,000 lorry movements replaced by 3,900 barge movements (all accident free); improved kerbside air quality; reduced congestion; barges arriving on time (whereas lorries get stuck in traffic), resulting in more efficient working on site.

Further information is available from David Lowe, CBOA Chairman on 07785-502478 or John Dodwell, CBOA Marketing/Corporate and Public Affairs on 07802-961485


  1. In replying to an Adjournment Debate in the Commons last Thursday, Rebecca Pow, the DEFRA Parliamentary Under Secretary of State said (our emphasis) “Not only do canals bring a great health benefit; they can also make a really important contribution to the economy locally, especially where they go through urban areas and areas that have traditionally been in decline. They have generated money through tourists coming in, and through starting to get freight back on to the waterways. With the move to net zero and to cleaner air, this is actually a huge asset, and we are starting to realise that canals can have a rebirth as transport links.
  1. Many of the UK’s canals are small and now mainly used for leisure. Narrow boats taking up to 20 tonnes each provide fuel and other services for residential and leisure boat owners, and waterside properties. They also deliver to and work on waterside construction sides and undertake niche deliveries including ‘last mile’ deliveries..
  1. The scope for significant movement of good from lorry to water lies mainly in the waterways in and around the four main English estuaries – the Thames/Medway; the Humber (including the Aire & Calder Navigation to Leeds; the South Yorkshire Navigation to Rotherham); the River Trent to Nottingham; the Mersey (including the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Weaver to Winsford; the Severn up to Worcester.

These waterways are used by barges taking between 1,500 tonnes and 200 tonnes each, taking 150 and 20 respectively return lorry journeys off the roads.


Uk Port Conference 2020

Here is a link to a Q&A session with CBOA member Antoon Van Coillie of Blue Line Logistics nv published by Peel Ports. Antoon promotes the use of flat top barges with green propulsion systems and suggests a first UK roll out on the Manchester Ship Canal could be possible.

Uk Port Conference 2020

Revised dates due to the Coronavirus emergency

View our events page for more information.

Further to our news item below because of high water levels barge movements are currently from site across the river to Queens Staithe for transhipment to road vehicles.

Barges will also deliver all the steelwork for the construction and the precast concrete floor slabs that would be near impossible to deliver by road to the city centre location.
Waterway and wellbeing charity, Canal & River Trust are the navigation authority for the River Ouse. The Trust is supporting the project by enabling VINCI to use the waterway to make site deliveries, helping to limit the disruption to residents and visitors in York city centre.

Further information can be found on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority website

DANBRIT Shipping Ltd, have commenced work for Vinci on a project to remove spoil and rubble from a site adjacent to the Guild Hall in York, with the aim to transport the material by barge , using Dean Marine Service’s barge 'George Dyson' for the movement of the spoil and rubble, via the River Ouse to Goole Docks. As York City council would not advocate the use of lorries to remove the spoil and rubble due to the narrow streets and likely impact on the historic centre of York, the removal by barge was the obvious answer.

DMS’s barge 'George Dyson' is engaged in the removal of the material expected to be around 1000 tonnes over the next six to eight weeks , the barge is expected to carry between 170-190 tonnes on each 5.5 hour passage from York along the River Ouse to Jubilee Quay, Aldam Dock, within Goole Docks.

David Lowe, Chairman of the Commercial Boat Operators Association, said 'This is an excellent example of how the inland waterways and use of barges can help to reduce congestion and pollution caused by urban construction work, especially where the work site is alongside a navigable waterway, and is very much to be welcomed'.

Dean Marine Services 'George Dyson' preparing to load via tower crane the first load of spoil and rubble from the Guild Hall project in York. DMS’s ‘ George Dyson’ penning through Naburn Lock with the first load of rubble and spoil en route to Goole Docks. DMS’s ‘George Dyson‘ heading back down the River Ouse, having just penned through Naburn Lock , loaded with spoil and rubble from the York Guild Hall project.

All photos Andrew Horn
Permission to publish the article courtesy of John Dean DMS and Jonas Frederiksen – Danbrit Shipping Ltd

The CBOA is delighted that Canal & River Trust (owners of the Aire & Calder Navigation from Leeds to Goole) has obtained planning permission to build a new wharf at Stourton, on the outskirts of Leeds. Once built, this will be the first new wharf in Yorkshire for nearly 20 years. The wharf will be able to handle barges carrying 500 tonnes +, thus taking the equivalent of 25 lorries carrying 20 tonnes each off the roads from the Humber ports to West Yorkshire.

David Lowe, CBOA’s chairman, said “In addition, this will make a contribution to cleansing the air of Leeds. Barges produce 75% less CO2 emissions than lorries and also less NOX. The support of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and of the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse is particularly significant, as is the encouragement from Councillor James Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member for air quality,

Further information can be found on the Canal & River Trust website

CBOA exhibited for the second year at the annual Recycling & Waste Management Show at the National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham IN September. This Show was chosen as it enables CBOA to present to the metal, waste and other recycling industries, all with potential to move significant tonnages by water. As well as CBOA’s own presentation, our Members Cory Riverside Energy’s video ”The Green Highway” was shown, demonstrating the use of barges to take domestic residue waste through London to an energy from waste plant at Belvedere; the residual 200,000 tonnes a year of ash is then taken by barge to Tilbury for the construction industry. The video can be found here.

CBOA officials made several useful contacts at the Show, as they did in 2018. Enquiries related to the London, Merseyside, and Yorkshire areas. A number related to the exporting of material with enquirers interested in improving ways of getting their cargo to the major ports. The hoped for opening of Port Leeds will help to handle enquiries relating to the Humber to West Yorkshire.

Inland waterway transport is demonstrably better in environmental terms than road or even rail”: David Lowe, foreword.
This report was researched and written by Paul Gosling, a writer, broadcaster and researcher, who specialises in the economy, accountancy, government and the public sector, the co-operative sector and personal finances.
Valued advice and information has been received from officers of the Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) David Lowe, John Dodwell, Richard Horne, member Antoon van Coillie and adviser Professor Rex Harris.


  • Foreword
  • Executive summary
  • The benefits of moving freight by inland waterways
  • Proposals for action
  • Britain’s inland waterways network
  • Best practice
  • Overcoming the challenges for greater use
  • The policy framework

The executive summary points out that using inland waterways for freight transportation offers significant and important advantages compared to both road and rail. For public bodies, greater use of inland waterways for freight transport offers many benefits:

  • Greater use of inland waterways for freight would significantly assist with meeting air and noise pollution and climate change targets;
  • Reduction in road deaths;
  • Lessening the need for expensive new road building;
  • Lowering road maintenance costs: HGV traffic is a major contributor to road wear.

A limited number of hard copies are being distributed and the report may be read here

The CBOA had been proposing for some considerable time that canal transport should be used for bringing in construction materials for the Icknield Port development project. Click here to read more.

The 27th Annual Rail Freight Group ConferenceCBOA are supporting the 27th Annual Rail Freight Group Conference on June 4th in London.

All CBOA contacts receive a 10% discount for this event, which covers the following topics:

1. Receive key insight from the Government and Network Rail on their plans for the freight network
2. Explore the challenges and opportunities facing the sector including a focus on the impacts of changing trade patterns and Brexit on the supply chain
3. Receive the latest insight on operators plans for 2019 and beyond
4. Consider the role of rail freight in retail logistics and how rail can remain competitive with road
5. Hear more on the development and delivery of strategic rail freight terminals
6. 3+ hours of networking with senior rail freight professionals

To register please email or call 0207 067 1597 and quote the discount code 375CBOA.

Use of waterways for freight and passenger services: advocated by government and facilitated by London’s Mayor. Click here to read more.

imageThe RWM Exhibition is now set to offset its own carbon footprint by planting a new UK forest, in partnership with @ForestCarbon_UK. They're planning to be carbon neutral by the year 2029! Watch the video to see their plan at

CBOA will again be exhibiting at the Recycling & Waste Management (RWM) Exhibition, 11th & 12th September, in partnership with the Canal & River Trust.

CBOA are supporting the 27th Annual Rail Freight Group Conference on June 4th in London. Click here to read more.

Land & Water create Thames liquid highway - click here to read the article.


imageCBOA congratulates Members GPS Marine Contractors Ltd on winning the prestigious Freight Transport Association’s Sea Freight Operator of the Year 2018 Award, which was presented to John Spencer (GPS’ managing director) at a gala dinner of the whole logistics industry.

The citation read “Thames barge freight was once described as the ultimate sunset industry – not any longer. GPS Marine has responded to a massive increase in demand triggered by major central London infrastructure developments and associated concerns, by investing £4.8m in a fleet of 10 leading-edge hopper barges. This went hand-in-hand with a shift in health and safety culture and working practices.”

The judges’ comment was “An efficient, safe way to move huge volumes of aggregate through a crowded city”.

David Lowe, CBOA chairman said: “I’m delighted that the Freight Transport Association – which speaks for firms which send and receive goods – has recognised the value of the inland waterways freight industry. GPS are one of the leading barge firms on the Thames and Medway. Their tugs and barges can be seen delivering aggregates to the Hanson Wharf at Wandsworth and other wharves on the River. They have often worked into Docklands with aggregates for construction at Canary Wharf and also brought up the River concrete segments needed for the Crossrail Tunnel”

Between January and August 2018, CBOA member Wood Hall and Heward Ltd (WHH) operated a push tug and three hoppers carrying a range of aggregates from 20 mm stone to dust, top soil, sand & soil etc. to the Southall Gas Works construction site. Click here to read more.

London-based waste management company Powerday has announced a partnership with start-up company IRecycle (CBOA member) to offer a commercial waste service in the capital using barges to transport material. Click here to read more.

imageDavid Lowe, the CBOA chairman, was one of the key speakers at a Leeds conference in October, speaking about the role of the water freight industry in the modern world [see photo]. It was organised by Canal & River Trust together with the Freight Transport Association in conjunction with a visit to Yorkshire by members of the Inland Waterways Transport Solutions team. The IWTS team is an EU funded project under their Interreg programme which bring together inland waterways freight carriage interests from countries bordering the North Sea. This project began about a year ago and has a four year programme. Their work stream includes the development of smaller barges design with cleaner engines.

Among the speakers were Arjen Mintjes and Jorn Boll, both from the Maritime Academy, Harlingden, The Netherlands. The Academy trains over 2,500 people a year for the maritime industry – 50% of whom go to work on barges. In fact, the Academy provided training to new crews working on the new barges operating on the Thames Tideway Tunnel project. They also explained that some Dutch cities have banned large diesel engined lorries from their medieval city centres, insisting on barges being used – such as the 18 tonne capacity Utrecht beer barge – for local deliveries. This is a result of a trend for barges getting larger and so being unable to access the smaller city canals. The smaller barges collect from out of town barge terminals. In the Utrecht case, small barges are also used to take out waste – not the same ones which take in the beer!

CRT’s Steve Higham spoke with enthusiasm about the Trust’s aspirations for a new wharf for the Port of Leeds and the local authority offer of £3m + funding. He pointed out that Transport for the North reckon that road and rail capacity is close to capacity and so are looking at the under-used waterways. He mentioned that Yorkshire's air quality is one of the worst in Europe.

Sara Rogerson from a Swedish university spoke about trials which had been undertaken to move containers inland from Gothenburg, the country's leading container port. The inland waterway are already used by ships (e.g exporting timber to the UK and elsewhere) . The would-be barge operators are having to explain that barges don’t need pilots in the same way that ships do.

imageAntoon van Coillie from the Belgian based Blue Line Logistics spoke about his flat bed Zulu pontoon barges. He comes from the construction world and so brings a user’s perspective. He is very keen on reducing handling costs and all that his craft need for loading/unloading is a hard flat surface on which to unload. The photo [attached] shows a hook lorry loading roll-on/off containers but his team are as much at home with pallets being on/offloaded with a fork lift truck. He’s also keen on minimising crew costs and dispenses with a crew cabin. His existing two Zulu barges have been so successful that he’s soon taking delivery of another two. He's keen on using smaller barges (300 tonne capacity) in order to fit the delivery size to what the customer wants. He sees his concept as deliverable in the UK and has been talking to a number of possible users.

The seminar ended with a presentation from Adina Vaillaux from the Port of Hamburg marketing team who talked about enhancing Baltic country navigations in Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Poland with an emphasis on moving containers on the River Vistula to Bodgosh.

imageCBOA/CRT officers noted down as many as 17 enquiries over the two days of the RWM Show in September. Most were of high quality with few in the “generally interested” category. There were eight serious potential enquiries, all of which have been followed up by CBOA. They covered the Yorkshire, Nottingham, Thames/Medway and Mersey areas. A further two were from companies with whom CBOA is already in contact. Two others were from trade associations where CBOA believes it can help.

The CBOA exhibition stand, aided by the Canal & River Trust, was on display at the Recycling and Waste Management Show which was held at the National Exhibition Centre, near Birmingham. Previously, the stand has been at the Multimodal Show for several years.

RWM was different type of Show. Multimodal is a gathering of the logistics industry to which it is hoped customers will go. CBOA found it useful as some potential customers did go but the Show was more useful in establishing links with others in the logistics trade, especially the ports. On the other hand, RWM is a gathering of the recycling and waste management industry – potential customers – who were interested in looking at solutions for their various problems, including logistics.


Further enquiries have been received since the Show and any interested readers are encouraged to contact CBOA. Copies of the CBA’s purpose designed leaflet can be found by clicking here. This leaflet emphasised some of the main advantages of using water freight, such as:

500 tonnes capacity barges (such as those in Yorkshire) are more efficient users of labour time than 20 tonne capacity lorries, thus reducing labour costs per tonne. This is because if the barge crew instead drove lorries, it would take them longer to move the cargo than the barges do. These benefits can be greater on the Thames where barge sizes vary from 300 to 1,900 tonnes

  • Barges are more efficient users of fuel than lorries as barges face less friction, water being smoother for barges than road surfaces are for lorries. Figures vary according to fuel prices but we hear of fuel being 40% of total costs for lorries but 20% for barges.
  • Barges produce about 75% less CO2 than lorries do, according to a report from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change.

The Association is pleased to support the Freight Conference being organised by the Freight Transport Association and and the Canal & River Trust in Leeds on 10th October. Please see Events page for further details and how to book.

The Loadstar, a shipping industry trade journal, has reported that Belgium and the Netherlands are introducing the world’s first fully electric, emission-free container barges this month (below, centre) - operating from the ports of Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam.

Norway which is working towards emission-free (and lower-cost) tourist shipping in the fjords with its first all-electric ferry, the ‘Ampere’, by 2025, will be interested in these barges because they intend emission-free water transport to be extended outside the fjords. Read more here

The vessels, designed to fit beneath bridges as they transport their goods around the inland waterways of Belgium and the Netherlands, are expected to vastly reduce the use of diesel-powered trucks for moving freight.

As the five barges, fitted with a power box giving them 15 hours of power, have no need for a traditional engine room, they have up to 8% extra space, according to their Dutch manufacturer, Port Liner (Van Meegen Group). Their electric motors will be driven by 20-foot batteries, charged on shore by carbon-free energy provider Eneco, which sources solar power, windmills and renewables.

About 23,000 trucks, mainly running on diesel, are expected to be removed from the roads as a result. Their use alone could lead to a reduction of about 18,000 tonnes per year of CO2, it is claimed.

The barges are being developed in the Netherlands with €7m in subsidies from the EU and additional funds from the ports involved.

Port Liner believes it could produce about 500 barges a year to revolutionise the freight industry, although the electric motors and batteries could also be retrofitted into older boats.

At a later date, six larger 110m-long barges, carrying 270 containers, will run on four battery boxes capable of providing 35 hours of autonomous driving.

Portliner’s chief executive, Ton van Meegen, told the Loadstar that the barges would be the first in the world to sail on carbon-neutral batteries and that only the low bridges in the low countries prevented them from being loaded with more goods.

The Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA), the national trade organisation for barge and other commercial craft operators on the UK’s inland waterways, today warmly welcomed the news that the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (“WYCA”) has agreed to provide £3.17m towards the building of a new wharf at Stourton on the Aire & Calder Navigation on the outskirts of Leeds as part of the Port of Leeds project.
For some time, the Canal & River Trust, strongly encouraged by CBOA, has been reviewing building a new wharf at Stourton – with room for either one or two barges to be tied alongside at the wharf (depending upon demand). The site is well located in logistics terms, being close to the motorway and also rail connections.
The new wharf would be able to handle sea-dredged aggregates brought by barge to Leeds from the Humber. Steel and timber products are also possibilities, along with other goods imported via the Humber ports. With modest improvements to the Navigation, barges would be able to bring containers to Stourton, thus relieving road traffic congestion on the M 62 and reducing pollution. Existing barges can carry up to 550 tonnes each - the equivalent of 27 lorries carrying 20 tonnes. With the navigational improvements, it would be possible to bring across from Europe Euro-Class 11 barges which can take 650 tonnes.
David Lowe, CBOA’s chairman, said “This is very welcome news and shows the commitment of the local authorities to seize the opportunity of doing something to take traffic off the roads – to the great benefit of their local people.”
Steve Higham of the Trust said “The Canal & River Trust is very grateful to WYCA for their encouragement and support. This provides the opportunity for a new dawn for the freight use of Yorkshire’s waterways. This fits in very well with the Trust’s work with Transport for the North in identifying ways for moving freight in the North.”

16th July 2018
For further information, contact David Lowe at

The photograph shows the size of barge which would be using the new wharf

The Thames and London Waterways Forum has been set up by the Mayor of London to advise him on addressing strategic waterway issues in London. The Forum has brought together the London Waterways Commission and the River Concordat.
Continues here

Waterways Policy - click here

Annual General Meeting

The Association’s AGM was held at the Bond in Birmingham on 26th April. Around 30 members and guests attended the event. An amended Constitution was approved and is posted on the Members page, along with the minutes of the meeting

Following the AGM we had presentations from Antoon Van Coillie (Blue Line Logistics) speaking by internet link about an innovative flat top barge operation in Belgium and Holland and UK aspirations for a similar venture. This was followed by Mike Garratt, who spoke about trends in shipping and opportunities for inland waterway freight, Chris Evans who updated us on the Canal & River Trust’s freight policy, and Port of Leeds venture, Julie Sharman who explained how the Trust was moving forward with its ‘health & wellbeing agenda’, and Prof Rex Harris (Birmingham University) argued the case for alternative fuel systems. Our south west representative Patrick Moss updated the meeting on the potential for a ‘Port of Worcester’.
We are grateful to our speakers for taking the time and trouble to attend and address us, and to our members for their support at this event.

Please contact the Chairman if you would like a copy of the PowerPoint presentations by Antoon Van Coillie, Chris Evans, Julie Sharman and Rex Harris.

CBOA response to the TfN draft Strategic Transport Plan

16 April 2018
Dear Sirs,

The Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) represents water freight carriage by barge on the UK's inland and estuarial waterways and is accepted by the Government as the representative industry body. The CBOA is the prime trade organization involved in sustaining and promoting freight carriage on our waterways for economic and environmental reasons.

In several places the draft Strategic Transport Plan mentions the advantages and benefits of multi-modal transport for freight and modal shift to other than road means, which CBOA fully agrees with. Rail is extensively mentioned in many sections, however there appears to be little mention of the use of navigable waterways, either rivers or canals for modal shift. Sizeable commercial freight waterways exist in the Cheshire/Lancashire/Greater Manchester area and also the Yorkshire/Lincolnshire area.

These waterways include the following as large sized navigations:-
The Aire and Calder Navigation linking Leeds and Wakefield to Goole on the River Ouse, Hull and Immingham (600 tonne size);
The Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation linking Sheffield, Rotherham, Mexborough and Doncaster to Goole is a Euro II sized waterway capable of handling 650-700 tonne barge capacity;
The River Ouse linking Goole to Barlby/Selby/York (3000 tonnes to Howden Dyke, 1000 tonnes to Selby, 400 tonnes to York);
The River Trent from Newark and Nottingham to the Humber (400 tonnes from Nottingham; 3000 tonnes below Keadby;
The Manchester Ship Canal linking the Port of Liverpool via the Mersey to Warrington, Irlam, Trafford Park and Salford (10,000 tonnes);
The Weaver Navigation, linking the Manchester Ship Canal to the industrial estates around Runcorn and to Northwich (600 tonnes).

The importance of the waterways linking to Goole and thence to the Humber estuary, and secondly the Manchester Ship Canal linking the Port of Liverpool to Manchester cannot be over stated. The Humber estuary supports the ports of Hull and Immingham. These ports provide access and act as a gateway to the ports in the Baltic countries, Scandanavia and northern Europe. Significant amounts of freight are currently handled by the UK’s southern ports, which then travels overland to the north which is inefficient in transport terms and also energy consumptive. Greater use of the northern ports is highly desirable for this freight to be landed closer its destination. Removing both lorry miles and also rail miles for these freight movements is very desirable for emissions reduction and energy consumption reduction. Forward planning and investment is needed to expand the capabilities of these ports.

Many of these waterways owned and managed by the Canal and River Trust are amply described by the Trust which is also submitting a response to your consultation, so I will not re-iterate the detail here but will refer to them similarly. In addition to the Trust’s waterways, the Manchester Ship Canal and Bridgwater Canal in the North West are owned and managed by other navigation authorities. The Manchester Ship Canal is also vitally important and needs to be included in the issue of how water freight should be fully included and integrated together with the other transport means. CBOA fully supports the submission by the Canal and River Trust about use of waterways for freight.

In Leeds, several wharves have protected status. These wharves are available for use and consideration should be given as to how they may be deployed for freight transport to reduce the dependence on road transport and its associated drawbacks.

Other smaller waterways exist in all areas, which may also be suitable for smaller cargoes and niche market applications including opportunities for ‘last mile’ delivery within city areas – please see the later section on this.

Intermodal interchange
The section ‘Moving goods’ on page 34 and sub-sections of the draft Strategic Transport Plan mentions investment needed in Liverpoool2 and the Humber Ports. Rail is mentioned for freight interchange; however there is little or no mention of waterways in this section to destinations or originations inland, as mentioned herein above where the waterways pass through. CBOA would request that waterways are included for greater consideration with modal interchange. This may mean construction of additional wharves or road/rail interchange points. Of course the waterways do not reach all destinations or originations, but with careful planning there is no reason why a significant amount of cargo to these locations cannot be accommodated by water. Another benefit is that railways are not stretched beyond capacity around critical nodes such as the ports.


Potential Cargoes
As well as the bulk cargoes that can be carried, such as aggregates, demolition waste associated with new developments, including that associated with major infrastructure projects such as HS2, biomass/coal, steel, timber etc., other potential and current cargoes include oil products and other bulk liquids, recyclables, refuse derived fuels, steel, timber, palletised goods, grain and container goods.

Abnormal Indivisible Loads
Waterways are excellent for the transport of abnormal indivisible loads (AILs), which with further investment in infrastructure and facilities, could be significantly increased. An AIL waterway map can be seen at with a description at

The road disruption for a large AILS movement is highly undesirable – so much better to transport the items by water where little or no disruption is caused.

A good example of this is with power station sub-assemblies, where the power station is often beside a navigable waterway, such as at Ferrybridge near Knottingley on the Aire and Calder Navigation. Large 300 tonne transformers were successfully taken by barge on the River Trent to Staythorpe power station near Newark-on-Trent two or three years ago, having arrived by ship at a Humber port, and have also been taken from the Humber up the River Ouse to Drax.
This requires forward planning, with the planning consent being conditional upon using water transport where this is feasible for water side premises.

‘Last Mile’ delivery and waterborne warehousing
Consolidation centres for local delivery of light cargoes or goods are mentioned on page 83 in the Innovation section of the draft Strategic Transport Plan; these can also be waterside, utilising water transport to deliver to them, thus avoiding the increasing use of the urban road network and avoiding the associated additional congestion. This scheme has already been implemented with success in Utrecht, Netherlands for delivery of beer barrels/cases and other goods. See and also Plans are also in hand to implement a similar scheme in Paris.

‘Last mile’ delivery is also mentioned on page 35 under ‘Supporting the international connectivity of the North’ and also on page 55. It can be seen that ‘last mile’ waterways delivery assists and complements the road transport system in reducing the congestion in critical high usage road routes within inner city areas. We would wish to see inclusion of ‘last mile’ water transport in these sections.


Emissions reduction with modal shift of freight to waterways
Reduction of carbon and NOX emissions is regarded as “imperative” in the draft Strategic Transport Plan on page 35 in the section Moving Goods.
Many reports have been provided showing that water transport is always given as providing a major reduction of emissions when compared to road, and also a significant reduction when compared to rail.

A European Union 2001 report showed that one kilogram of fuel over one kilometre could move:
· 50 tonnes by road
· 97 tonnes by rail
· 127 tonnes by water

In a 2004 report, Royal Haskoning, the international environment consultants, reviewed energy use. In terms of energy used per tonne-kilometre (tonnage carried multiplied by distance travelled), they reported that
· water transport uses 0.2MJ;
· rail transport used 0.4MJ;
· road transport used 0.8MJ.

In March 2006 Sea and Water, the Department for Transport (DfT) sponsored but industry led group, reported that
· Moving freight by water reduced the amount of carbon put in the atmosphere by about 80%;
· Moving freight by water reduced the amount of nitrogen oxide put into the atmosphere by about 35%;
· Transport (excluding aviation) caused about 25% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions with road accounting for 22%; of this 40% come from lorries and buses.
· Transport emissions contribute towards poor air quality. The Department of Health estimated that between 12,000 and 24,000 deaths each year arose from poor air quality.

In 2011 the DEFRA consultation paper about transferring BW to CRT stated that "Freight transport by water can be cheaper than transport by road as moving goods by water can be more fuel efficient, leading to CO2 emissions that can be one-quarter the level of road transport", quoting the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change.

For more information a case study for emissions reduction with the benefits of water transport can be seen in a report produced by ASD Metal Services at

It compares barge to lorry transport when carrying steel from Scunthorpe to Stourton, Leeds. In conclusion ASD’s expectation was that over a year there would be a 45% reduction in fuel used with the consequent reduction in emissions.


Planning for future growth
This section in the draft Strategic Transport Plan should also include waterways for freight in terms of provision of wharves and modal interchange points with road and possibly also rail where this can be seen to assist with the overall design of the future transport plan freight routing.

It may also be good forward planning to examine whether waterway expansion programmes would be beneficial. It is estimated that the cost of waterway construction could be significantly less than either road or rail. Would a trans-Pennine route linking the ports be beneficial?

Aire & Calder Navigation improvement works were estimated in c 2003 at (only) £10 m. This would entail modest widening of parts of two locks, and the raising of five bridges to allow carriage of containers in Euro II size craft of up to 700 tonne capacity. Since then whilst costs have generally gone up, bridge raising costs have come down as more experience is learned from similar rail work.

Also as the track is already there, no need for prolonged planning enquiries and so a "quick win" is possible.

Major Waterways Map
A map showing the navigable waterways is on the last page. The larger waterways mentioned above are shaded in blue.

I trust that you be able to utilise CBOA’s information above in the review of the draft Strategic Transport Plan. If you need any further information I would be pleased to assist.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Horne.
Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA)



Some 60 people gathered at Doncaster Racecourse last November for the Freight Transport Association’s annual water freight conference, organised by their Freight by Water section.

The speakers included CBOA’s chairman David Lowe and Lucy Hudson, Lead Officer – Freight & Logistics for Transport for the North. Warren Marshall, Peel Ports Group Planning Director spoke about the expansion of traffic on the Manchester Ship Canal and future plans, linked with the expansion of Liverpool’s capacity to take larger container ships and so offer an alternative to Felixstowe and Southampton. Warren told the audience that the Liverpool/Manchester container shuttle service was now operated by the 300 teu vessel THEA. Starting from 3,000 teu moved in 2009, the 2016 figure was 36,500 teu – an increase of over twelvefold.

Tom Jeynes (Sustainable Development Manager, APB Humber) spoke about Associated British Ports’ hopes and plans for the future, including making use of the waterways to Leeds and Rotherham. He was followed by Chris Evans, a transport consultant engaged by Canal & River Trust , who spoke about their plans to develop the Port of Leeds, coupled with the advantages of using water freight.

The second session was started off by Graham Dixon, Group Director of our Members Esprit Group. They have taken a lease of the Manchester Dry Docks site and have renovated the buildings and hard standing for warehousing and onward road delivery. Being close to the flour mills of both Allied Mills and Rank Hovis McDougall had enabled Esprit to store British grain prior to delivery to the mills. Graham emphasised his desire to receive water borne cargoes and showed pictures of abnormal indivisible loads being unloaded from ships – very large cylinders destined for a local brewery.

Graham also delivered (on behalf of Antoon Van Collie who was ill) a speech about the Belgian based Blue Line Logistics new pontoon barges. These flat decked craft are designed to be used by goods on pallets; in builders’ bags; in skips; in roll-on/off containers. Ease of handling is a key feature and there is no need for expensive land based lifting gear. The session ended with a presentation about the use of oversize bikes and small electric powered vans for “last mile” delivery in congested urban areas.

David Lowe spoke about the opportunities and challenges in the North and explained proposals for modest improvements which would enable Euro Class II barges to get to Leeds. They have a carrying capacity of 650 tonnes or 32 teus.
The feeling was the conference had been effective. Of the 60 people present, over half were from companies of various sorts with the rest being drawn from navigation and other authorities and CBOA Members. It was nice that CBOA played a part in the organising of the conference as the majority of the speakers were suggested by CBOA personnel.


Click here to view the above photo

Would you like to help with the work of CBOA? We are looking for a new Secretary. In this modern world of communications, geographic location doesn't matter, as long as you can travel as needed (expenses can be provided). As a minimum this will include responding to enquiries, organising the Association in planning and running (with the Chairman) the Annual General Meeting (including helping to identify speakers) and organising the quarterly Committee meetings (agendas etc – minutes are taken by the Minutes Secretary). To some extent the position is what the individual wishes to make it and the work can be expanded into trade promotion and other fields if the Secretary has the right background

For many years waterway transport of timber has been advocated in Scotland and in 2015, Roland Stiven, the Timber Transport Forum’s Project Officer, made an information-packed submission to the Scottish Parliament.


The TTF is a partnership of the forestry and timber industries, local government, national government agencies, timber hauliers and road and freight associations. It seeks to access and market UK timber sustainably, minimising the impact of timber transport on the public road network, on local communities and the environment, using other modes of transport where possible. Two examples were given:
• a 2014 Waterborne Freight Grant totalling £960k was made by Boyd Brothers to transport sawn timber from Corpach to Tilbury by sea.
• the movement of timber from Glen Etive, after the loch’s jetty had been rebuilt, to Inverness via the Caledonian Canal


The Norwegian Kanutta (42.0 x 8.0 x 4.3 metres, 1,450 dwt - pictured on the Caledonian Canal) has been moving timber through the Caledonian Canal from Loch Etive to Inverness and the Red
Baroness (65.0 x 10.7 x 4.0 metres, 1,450 dwt) has been well employed in coastal timber movements. The Caledonian Canal provides a shortcut between Scotland’s west and east coasts. Use of the Great Glen company’s little ships is saving thousands of truck miles on remote highland roads. Such ship movements are an essential part of a modern sustainable forest industry, important in large parts of remote Scotland.


The Scottish Strategic Timber Transport Scheme (2016) aims to promote the sustainable transport of timber in rural areas of Scotland for the benefit of local communities and the environment

It recommends making ‘In-Forest’ road links to water and rail routes, constructing, improving and upgrading of informal roads, as well as improvement and upgrading short stretches of eligible minor public roads to enable timber extraction by rail and inland waterways.

Investments will aim to reduce the overall environmental impact of timber transport operations by reducing road mileage and/or fuel consumption and a contribution to the development of non-road transport modes such as rail and water.

Awards under the Mode Shift Revenue Support scheme were mentioned as a possible source of funding, though the latest grant awards table lists no Scottish waterway freight grants.

The Department for Transport gave awards from the Sustainable Distribution Fund, designed to support the carriage of freight by rail and water that would otherwise be carried by road. Support from this bid round is expected to remove up to 15,487 lorry journeys from the roads of Great Britain between January 2017 and March 2017 and achieve environmental and social benefits that result from using rail or water transport instead of road.

Its Waterborne Freight Grant scheme is intended to assist companies with the operating costs, for up to three years, associated with running coastal and short sea shipping freight transport instead of road (where short sea/ coastal shipping is more expensive than road). However, following the January 2017 Bid Round , no English waterway freight grants were listed.

Commercial boat operators and the Canals and River Trusts who wish to apply for such grants can learn more about the procedure here. bid

Detail 2015




Commercial Boat Operators Association – 2017 AGM

The 27th April saw the CBOA hold its AGM at The Bond, Birmingham, as last year the year’s event was chaired by our President David Quarmby. The AGM received the Chairman’s annual report on the association’s activities during the year and approved the accounts. Following the official business of the AGM the meeting was addressed by three guest speakers. The first presentation was from Gerry Heward of Wood, Hall & Heward Ltd, he gave details of his company’s barge operations supporting civil engineering works and freight particularly in the London area, Graham Dixon of Esprit Warehousing & Docks spoke about his company’s investment in the wharfage and warehousing in Trafford Park and the opportunities he saw for growth and Louise Hall of the Shipowners P&I club/CTRL Marine Solutions closed on behalf of the guest speakers by addressing about her company’s technical, risk and legal services offered to both members and non-members. All three presentations were very informative and thought provoking, consequently, they were well received by our members and the presenters were thanked for their input to the success of the day. In addition to the guest speakers one of our members, Patrick Moss, gave a short presentation on the opportunities to develop the freight on the River Severn and the potential development of the Port of Worcester. This was followed by an update on progress of the development of the Port of Leeds by Chris Evans who is overseeing the project on behalf of the Canal & River Trust. Our President and Chairman were pleased to see so many members attend; those members that were unable to be at the event are encouraged to read the minutes which are also available on our website.

Minutes - click here

Commercial Boat Operators Association – Multi Modal 2017

The CBOA, in conjunction with the Canal & River Trust, attended the Multi Modal exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham again this year. It is pleasing to report many new contacts were made within the logistics industry; these will be followed up by the committee in an effort develop new waterborne trades for our members. In addition to those who stopped and spoke to the team on the stand many visitors to the exhibition seemed fascinated by the new rolling presentation on freight on the inland waterways.


Click here to view the above photo

The Commercial Boat Operators Association’s (CBOA) Award of Excellence was presented to Steve Dunn, Sales Director, and Mark Field, Marketing Manager (both of Exol Lubricants Ltd (Exol)) by Dr David Quarmby, CBE, the CBOA’s President at the Freight Transport Association/Multimodal Awards Dinner on April 4 2017 at the National Exhibition Centre.

The Award of Excellence has been made to Exol

“in recognition of their vision, commitment and good business sense in the successful re-commencement of their use of the waterways to transport base oil from the port of Hull to their blending plant at Rotherham and their increasing use of barges. In so doing, they have taken up to 80 lorry journeys a week off the roads and reduced costs, congestion and pollution”

In 2016 Exol resumed deliveries of base oil from Hull to their waterside blending plant in Rotherham alongside the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation. They receive up to 1,000 tonnes a week, carried by oil tanker barge.

Exol’s commitment to the use of freight by water is shown by the fact the barge is named EXOL PRIDE and is painted in Exol company colours.

Photos below and attached show the Award being presented and the EXOL PRIDE, carrying about 500 tonnes of oil.

Further information can be obtained from

David Low, Chairman of the CBOA – 07785-261870


Keith Astley, Secretary of the CBOA – 07804-508468

Notes for Editors
CBOA is the trade association for companies which carry freight on the UK’s inland and estuarial waterways. CBOA members offer a one-stop service to advise companies on what can be done to take freight off the roads and on to water to capture both economic and environmental benefits.
The CBOA periodically makes Awards of Excellence to mark a significant achievement in water freight. On this occasion, the recipient is Exol Lubricants.
The Freight Transport Association represents the transport interest of companies moving good by road, rail, water and air. It has a specialist Freight by Water division. See

Multimodal, now in its tenth year, is the UK and Ireland's leading freight transport and logistics exhibition. In addition to the trade exhibition, the event includes the FTA Awards, and seminar and workshop sessions supported by industry partners including the FTA, the CILT, and the UKWA. See


Picture below (L-R). David Gower OBE (who presided over the Award celebrations), Steve Dunn, Dr David Quarmby CBE, Mark Field


This article briefly covers the development of hydrogen as an environmentally good motive power source for transport, including use in barges and vessels of all kinds.

Sixty years of research has been carried out into the production of hydrogen from waste and fuel cell powered electrical drives chiefly for vehicles. Birmingham is one of the first cities in Europe, along with areas of Belgium and North West Germany, to be progressing this technology. The hydrogen fuel cell works by combining the hydrogen with oxygen and burning or oxidising it. Low voltage electrical power is produced (about 0.7V per cell), and multiple cells are stacked to provide a useful voltage for the desired application. It is an environmentally friendly way of producing electrical power with minimal levels of toxic waste. The hydrogen has to be either stored locally or produced as required for the cells.

In 2000, the Birmingham University's Centre for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research was formed, part of the university's School of Chemical Engineering. With its programme of research into hydrogen as a future energy source, the university has been working towards making a low and no carbon economy a reality, for both automotive and for other motive energy plants.

In 2010, the boat Ross Barlow, pioneered by Birmingham University with fuel cell technology, made its longest voyage to date, of four days duration and 105 km length, passing 58 locks. The boat holds its hydrogen in powder form – metal hydride – which could offer a safer and cheaper use of hydrogen. In 2014, the University of Birmingham designed and developed a narrow-gauge hydrogen-hybrid locomotive, with electric drive to the wheels. On board lead-acid batteries stored the power during off peak power demand times.

In September 2015 a zero-emissions refuelling station for hydrogen powered cars was built by ITM Power near the M1 at Rotherham. Electricity produced from wind turbine splits water into its constituent parts - hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then used for the fuel filling station.

Some car manufacturers notably Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are developing hydrogen powered cars, with Toyota aiming for production of 30,000 cars annually by 2020.

In September 2015 a post-grad student of the University College of London’s (UCL) Department of Mechanical Engineering produced an MSc thesis on a freight barge design suitable for the London canals, including the use of hydrogen fuel cells for motive power. The thesis concluded that the barge can be competitive with road transport and would offer several benefits, including:-

  • Cutting air and sound pollution
  • Contributing to a lower carbon city footprint
  • Removal of freight of the roads, increasing safety.

Hydrogen fuel cell powered barges would need hydrogen refuelling stations at suitable locations. These locations would then need to be re-stocked periodically or provided with hydrogen produced locally perhaps.

Also in September 2016, the London Hydrogen four year project successfully concluded that hydrogen is a practical and environmentally beneficial fuel source.

In November 2016 Germany introduced the world’s first passenger train powered by hydrogen - the Coradia iLint. If successful more will follow.

Transport for London are now using eight hydrogen fuel cell single deck buses onto Route RV1, operating between Covent Garden and Tower Hill. Two more vehicles will join in 2017. The only emission from these buses is water.

This week (Monday 30th January) saw the arrival of the first large ship into Trafford Park Docks, marking it’s re-opening after being closed for over 10 years. The 2300 tonne ship 'RMS Duisburg’ brought two large silo’s from Germany, bound for a Manchester factory.

imageEsprit Warehousing & Docks, owned by businessman Graham Dixon, has invested nearly £1/4m into refurbishing the derelict site over the last 2 years. Graham’s vision and goal is for Esprit’s Trafford Docks to be busy once again, bringing bulk goods such as road salt, aggregates, grain and biomass via the Manchester Ship Canal into Manchester, removing many lorries from the surrounding roads and therefore reducing congestion and pollution. “If one ship brings 3000 tonnes of freight up the canal, that’s over 100 lorry journeys removed from the roads, requiring only the first and the final few miles to be carried by lorry instead of potentially hundreds of miles.”

imageThe Esprit Trafford Park Docks can handle vessels carrying upto 4500 tonnes of bulk goods or oversized freight which is too large for normal transport by road. Esprit have also refurbished two warehouses on the site upto food-grade standard, so freight can be stored at the docks, inside or outside, and gradually collected over a period of time.

“Businesses need to start thinking ‘can our raw materials or finished goods be transported on the canal rather than by road?” Not only can goods be brought into Manchester, but those produced in Manchester can also now be shipped out via the Manchester Ship Canal. Equally freight doesn’t have to be international to use the canal. Esprit has recently signed an agreement with Belgian company Blue Line Logistics who operate smaller barges on inland waterways. These can be used for imagemoving palletised goods between the many berths up and down the ship canal, utilising their onboard cranes for lifting pallets directly onto and off the quayside. In Belgium, many local authorities impose planning conditions requiring developers to bring their construction materials as near to the site as possible via the canals. The Manchester Ship Canal can now be used for ideas such as this, with Trafford Docks the ideal location, leaving only the final few miles for road transport.

Peel Ports have recently opened Port Salford for freight carried in shipping containers, so now Esprit’s Trafford Park Docks has opened for bulk and oversized freight, the ship canal can cater for most types of freight.

These two large silo’s were collected from Rotterdam by RMS Duisburg on Thursday evening, shipped around the south coast of England and arrived at Esprit’s Trafford Park Docks in Manchester early Monday morning. Two large cranes soon had them transferred onto low loaders ready for the final four miles by road on Monday night under police escort. "Imagine the congestion these would have caused if they’d travelled by road from Hull or Liverpool. Freight back on the Manchester Ship Canal, surely this has to be the way forward?”

posterNorthern Powerhouse Waterways Prospectus - Routes to Growth

Click here for more information

The London Low Emission Construction Partnership (LLECP) is a project funded by the Mayor of London and Transport for London as part of the Mayors Air Quality Fund.

LLECP is a partnership between the 'Cleaner Air Boroughs' of Camden, King's College London, Hammersmith, Fulham, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Wandsworth and industry partners across the demolition and construction sectors.

In 2015, Air Quality News reported that the LLECP website, aimed at helping the construction industry to understand its impact on air quality and encourage pollution reduction measures, had been launched by King’s College London.

The site notes that as emissions from road vehicles can significantly add to levels of local air pollution, developers with construction sites close to waterways or railways are strongly encouraged to assess the viability and feasibility for construction materials to be delivered or removed by these means, rather than by road. The benefit of this is the reduction in the number of trips made by HGVs on local roads, reducing local emissions. Even modern diesel or petrol powered plant items emit higher levels of PM and NOx than electric equivalents. Therefore, wherever possible, renewable, mains or battery powered plant items should be used.

Reducing emissions from vehicles transporting construction materials

Science Daily says (drawing on material from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) one of the most efficient means of transporting freight is by water. It points out, however, that many vessels sailing today are powered by aging diesel motors fitted with neither exhaust cleaning equipment nor modern control systems.

imageThe converted hydrogen-fueled barge "Ross Barlow" with the Empa-developed hydride storage tank.Credit: Image courtesy of Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA).

The EMPA report describes the University of Birmingham’s ‘ambitious trial’, converting a canal barge to be the first in the world to use hydrogen fuel.

In 2010 the converted boat, the "Ross Barlow," made its longest voyage to date, of four days duration and 105 km length, negotiating no less than 58 locks.

The boat holds its hydrogen in powder form - metal hydride – which could offer a safer and cheaper use of hydrogen.

Cenex, the UK’s Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell technologies, supports the early market development for low carbon vehicles including electric, hybrid, bio-methane and hydrogen powered vehicles. Cenex also works with clients to increase the use of alternative fuels in the UK through the addition of infrastructure including electric vehicle charge points, gas and hydrogen stations.

Will Cenex extend its remit to increase the use of alternative fuels on vessels sailing on our rivers and waterways?

imageElizabethan, a replica Mississippi paddle steamer, at Butler’s Wharf Pier, Shad Thames, London, chaired by its author, Alex Veitch, FTA's Head of Global Policy. It may be downloaded here. The report offers the Thames as a case study for other waterways across the country. The importance of safeguarding wharves from development is one of the key issues explored.

The latest information on water freight services in the Thames region is given, the Association’s proposals to grow the sector are recorded and the policy and regulatory barriers impeding growth outlined. As Alex Veitch said: “Inland water freight can make a significant contribution to alleviating road traffic congestion in London and other major cities across the UK, but there are many planning and regulatory barriers that prevent those moving freight from capitalising on the benefits”.

Information given in the publication gives weight to the proposal for the establishment of a national Strategic Water Network to develop a more coordinated approach to investment and planning. Mr Veitch concluded: “Members of Freight by Water are keen to engage with industry partners and decision-makers to develop this concept and make it happen.” He encourages the new Mayor of London to continue his predecessor’s commitment to maintaining wharves in order to grow and develop the inland water freight sector.

Click here for more information

It is with sadness that we must advise that David Blagrove MBE, Vice President of the Commercial Boat Operators Association passed away last Friday. Amongst his varied interests he found time to support the CBOA and its objectives of seeing the carriage of freight on the inland waterways, for his support and guidance we will be for ever grateful. A celebration of his life will take place on 24th August at Stoke Bruerne Church where his funeral will take place at 1pm, this will follow a last trip on nb Sculptor leaving at 10.30am. The family have asked for no flowers but donations to either the James Borondy Trust or Friends of the Canal Museum Stoke Bruerne, donations may be sent to John White Funeral Directors, 188 Watling Street East, Towcester, NN12 6DB Tel: 01327 359266

17th August ‘16

imageCBOA is delighted that Exol lubricants have chosen to remain with barge transport for deliveries of base oil from Hull to Rotherham. CBOA member Mainmast Ltd has taken over the contract, renamed one of its 600 tonne tanker barges ‘Exol Pride’ and painted it Exol house colours this cementing the relationship between the customer and the waterways. Exol expect the barge to make one or two deliveries a week and thus avoid the use of lorries. The barge journey covers 65 miles and takes between 10-12 hours. This means the whole cargo is delivered more quickly than if the barge crew drove lorries. Furthermore, utilising the figures produced by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change barges produce only 25% of the emissions of those from lorries.

imageDavid Lowe, Chairman of the CBOA, said ‘the barge represents 18 heavy goods lorries, use of the barge saves time, avoids pollution from lorry engines and also helps reduce road congestion, particularly on the roads around Exol’s Rotherham depot.

The CBOA has been pleased to assist the parties (Exol, Mainmast and the Canal & River Trust) with facilitating this project.

imageIt is pleasing to report that the Commercial Boat Operators Association’s presence at this year’s Multi Modal has been another complete success. A number of enquiries were received, these have been passed on to members that possess the relevant experience and boats. In addition to these the opportunity was taken to distribute our new and out and spread the word that the UK Inland Waterways are open and ready for business. Thanks go to those committee members, including our President David Quarmby CBE, who took the time to man the stand over the three days.

At the associations recent AGM we received three presentations; the first from Antoon van Coillie of Blue Line Logistics, this was followed by Dr Tom Cherrett of Southampton University with the final one by Steven Mears of Keel Marine. As those that were at the meeting will confirm they were very informative and thought provoking, with this in mind we're pleased to be able present them here again.

Blue Line Logistics CBOA AGM presentation - click here

Dr Tom Cherrett CBOA AGM presentation - click here

Steven Mears CBOA AGM presentation - click here

2016 AGM minutes - click here

The 21st April saw the CBOA hold its AGM at The Bond, Birmingham, this year’s event was chaired by our President David Quarmby. The AGM received the Chairman’s annual report on the association’s activities during the year, dealt with the re-election of Committee members and approved the accounts.

After the business of the AGM in the morning, the afternoon session was addressed by three guest speakers. The first presentation was from Antoon Van Coillie of Blue Line Logistics, he gave details of his new design of barge operating on the Belgian waterways and the types of cargo they are handling, Dr Tom Cherrett of Southampton University followed up by giving information about a floating depot trial he is involved with in Amsterdam and Steven Mears of Keel Marine closed the afternoon sessions by giving his thoughts on the design of replacement inland waterway vessels. All three presentations were very informative and thought provoking, consequently, they were well received by our members and the presenters were thanked for their input to the success of the day.

Our President and Chairman were pleased to see so many members attend and take advantage of the change of format. Those members that were unable to be at the event are encouraged to read the minutes which are also available on our website.

imageThe Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA), the national association for barge operators, today called on the Northern Powerhouse authorities to look at a new canal across the Pennines as part of their freight strategy.

The new canal would be a multi-purpose waterway It would:

  • Provide a European sized canal for barges and coastal ships to carry goods, thus taking traffic off the roads and reducing greenhouse gases
  • Generate hydro-electricity through turbines being built at the new locks (which would have a greater rise and fall than usual)
  • Enable water to be transferred to Yorkshire
  • Provide a leisure facility both on and beside the new canal

David Lowe, Chairman of the CBOA, said “This new canal could provide an answer to many questions which the Northern Powerhouse has to face. Increasing passenger rail capacity does nothing for freight. We have noted the concerns of Joe Anderson, executive Mayor of Liverpool, that with the new Liverpool docks facilities meaning a possible four fold increase in traffic, there must be a way of getting the imports over the Pennines and avoiding the M6 and M62 becoming lorry parks. The Manchester Ship Canal is already used to take containers and general freight between Liverpool and Manchester. A similar new canal would provide access between Yorkshire and Lancashire .”

David Lowe went on: “I cannot think of any other major infrastructure projects which can bring these multi- benefits. This new canal could help solve problems about moving freight, providing more electricity and transfer water – all major problems affecting the economy of the North.”

Further information please contact
David Lowe, Chairman, Commercial Boat Operators Association

imageThe Commercial Boat Operators Association is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr David Quarmby CBE as President to succeed the late Sonia Rolt.

David Quarmby is chairman of the Canal and River Trust’s Freight Advisory Group (FrAG) and led the development of a policy for waterborne freight and the commercial waterways, since adopted by CRT in 2014. He is now a member of the CRT’s Freight Steering Group, created to take forward the FrAG proposals for Priority Freight Routes.

David is widely known for his long career in transport and logistics, with 39 years’ board level experience in government, public agencies and the private sector. Since 1996 his appointments have included chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority and of the Docklands Light Railway, and Board Member of Transport for London; he has been a director of consultancy Colin Buchanan, and chairman of the RAC Foundation; he was President of the Institute of Logistics in the 1990’s. Prior to 1996 he was Joint Managing Director of Sainsbury’s, and earlier in his career Managing Director of London Buses.

CBOA Chairman David Lowe said “We are delighted that David has agreed to take on this role for three years. I know he will wish to be more than a ‘figurehead’ and will be getting out and about on freight boats and barges of all sizes, on the various UK waterways used for water freight. David’s expertise and wisdom will be of great benefit to the Association as it seeks to support its member companies and the navigation authorities and ports in the drive to attract more tonnage to the inland waterways.”

David Quarmby said “It is a great honour to be associated with CBOA as its President. I have huge respect for its members’ knowledge and experience of our waterways, and I look forward to working with them to help bring more traffic on to the UK’s inland waterways”.

David is a native of Yorkshire, born in Halifax and brought up in Huddersfield; he took degrees at Cambridge and Leeds Universities, and has now lived in London for over 40 years. David is no stranger to the inland waterways: with his wife and family – and often with friends – David has enjoyed over 20 narrow boat holidays over the years.

The report from the Passenger Transport Executive Group (pteg) highlights the essential role of urban freight in ensuring the effective functioning of the UK economy and presents a fresh vision designed to safeguard this role, as well as protect the environment and quality of life for communities. The report and infographic can be downloaded here

The report envisages that every opportunity should be taken for freight to make its way to urban areas by rail or water, either directly into those areas, or into the major distribution parks that serve them. It argues that those distribution sites should be located so that it is practical for goods to travel the last mile(s) into urban centres using zero/low emission modes. These last mile journeys should be achieved as safely, unobtrusively and with as little environmental impact as possible.

Policy ideas that could assist in achieving this vision are explored, including making more use of city rail stations as out-of-hours freight hubs, a last mile innovation challenge fund and improving vehicle design. It concludes that a broader, national strategy for freight would assist in providing leadership and direction for the industry and its stakeholders.

Exol Lubricants is hitting the small screen this month with an appearance on ITV’s prime time programme Barging Round Britain with John Sergeant.

Exol makes effective use of the waterways and canal networks, regularly transporting 500 tonnes of raw material – equivalent to more than 20 road tanker deliveries – from Hull docks to its bulk blending plant in Rotherham.

In episode three, which is to be aired on Friday 27 February at 20:00, programme host John Sergeant joins the Exol team on the Humber Princess (approximately 200 feet long), led by Skipper Duane Ball, and travels along the river Humber before disembarking at Goole.
Barge transport is more energy efficient, produces less air pollution with lower emissions and is safer overall, with fewer accidents, fatalities and injuries. Where road travel is essential, Exol maintains one of the most economical fleets on UK roads, having recently invested £1.5million in new Scania trucks.

Steve Dunn said: “It was great to play a part in Barging Round Britain as it gave us another opportunity to highlight our use of the waterways, which is vitally important to the running of our business.

“We are seriously committed to achieving the highest environmental and quality targets and continue to prove that we can make effective use of the waterways while still ensuring the highest levels of customer service and product quality.”

For more information on Exol Lubricants, please contact Mark Field on Tel: 07825 410 998 or email

imageJohn Sergeant with Exol operations director Jonathan Hoole
imageHumber Princess (operated by CBOA members John. H. Whitaker (Tankers) Ltd)

Gerald Whiteley, of CBOA members Humber Barges Ltd, accompanied John Sergeant on his journey up the Aire & Calder and John expressed great interest in and support for increased freight use of the inland waterways.

imageCaptain Len Clarke was honoured to receive the Merchant Navy Medal in a presentation at Warrington Town Hall last week. He is in illustrious company as in 2014 only five Captains received the award, two of which were to the Captains of Cunard Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth.

Len first went on the river Mersey as a young lad with his Father who was Captain of the J. Fairclough & Sons motor barges Pater and Panary. He began work at 15 as a deckhand with John Harker’s barges on the Mersey and was promoted Captain when he was 21. In 1975 he moved to Allied Mills at Bank Quay Mill Warrington and became Captain of their newly acquired motor barge Humber Trader.

imageThis traded with Panary bringing wheat cargoes from Liverpool up the Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal. The boats then locked down again through Walton Lock and back into the Mersey for the final leg of the trip to the mills at Warrington. In 1984 Allied Mills sold out their rights to use Walton Lock to the MSC, enabling MSC to close the lock, although a legal right of access to the derelict lock still exists. Humber Trader and Panary were sold by Allied and Len became Owner/ Captain of Humber Trader. He began trading to Frodsham for Frodsham Lighterage, later Viaduct Shipping, carrying wheat for Nelstrop’s Mill. After Humber Trader moved to Yorkshire, he continued in the grain trade to Frodsham as Captain of Panary, his Father’s old boat. In 2013 after a phenomenal 59 years on the river in he retired from commercial barging.

However he can still be regularly seen afloat on the River Weaver and narrow canals aboard his immaculately maintained classic motor boat Jacqueline.

The medal citation reads, CAPTAIN. J.L. CLARKE, lately Master PANARY (Viaduct Shipping) for services to lighterage on the Mersey and to historic vessels on Merseyside.

The Freight Transport Association, supported by the Canal & River Trust and CBOA held a water freight conference in Wakefield in November. Dr David Quarmby (Chairman of the CRT Freight Group) outlined the Trust’s freight policy, highlighting the decision to promote three waterways radiating from the Humber as ‘Priority Freight Routes’. CRT Trustee and CBOA committee member John Dodwell then detailed the opportunities made possible by the policy in an up beat presentation.

Key points were:

  • CRT Trustees had accepted the Advisory Group's recommendations to have a pro-active freight policy and about concentrating on developing freight on the larger waterways in Yorkshire whilst not ignoring others such as the Trent, Severn and Weaver.
  • A freight steering group, led by a director (Stuart Mills) had been set up to take the project forward
    • this includes reviewing modern trade patterns
    • seeing how much trade from/to the Humber ports could be carried by barge, including in containers, working with port authorities and shippers
    • looking at enabling Euro Class II size barges to be used on the Yorkshire waterways. They can carry 650 tonnes each - a significant increase in payload from the c 500 tonnes of existing UK barges
    • looking at what improvements to the navigation might be needed - and how they might be funded externally
    • looking at moving sea-dredged aggregates to Leeds, using existing barges

  • CRT looks to work with local authorities and LEPs. CRT supports Leeds City Council in its efforts to get wharves protected from unsuitable development, following what London has already done
  • CRT now has a water borne freight policy and welcomes enquiries

We are very sorry indeed to pass on the sad news that our President had passed away at 3pm yesterday afternoon, 22nd October, in Gloucester Hospital, where she had been for about two weeks. Hopes that she might have her wish of dying in her own home faded when her condition deteriorated over the weekend.

Sonia was a great supporter and served as President of CNOA (later CBOA) from formation in 1990.

She was also, however, a remarkable woman in her own right: a former Vice-President of the IWA, an author, campaigner and recipient of the OBE in 2010 for services to industrial archaeology and heritage.

Sonia Rolt was born Sonia South. With no previous experience of or interest in canals when World War 2 was declared, Sonia became one of the famous ‘ Idle Women’ working narrow boats on the Grand Union Canal and connecting waterways.

Sonia married a working boatman, George Smith, and stayed on the canals after the war. She met Tom Rolt at a screening of Painted Boats in 1945. Tom was an engineer and writer and his book ‘Narrow Boat’ (published in 1944) has been credited as being the catalyst for the formation of the Inland Waterways Association in 1946. Tom and Sonia were active within the IWA in the early years and played a major part in securing the future of the system, some of which was under threat of abandonment. Although the IWA campaigned for multi-use of the waterways Tom and Sonia were especially interested in and keen to see continued use for the carriage of freight.

Sonia and Tom married, had two children and moved to Tom’s childhood home, in Stanley Pontlarge, where Sonia still lived until the end of her life. Her love of historic buildings led to her work as a furnisher and librarian for for the Landmark Trust and later, the National Trust, and she has been an active member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) for many years.

In recent years Sonia edited and wrote introductions to several of Tom’s books – and in 1997 she wrote A Canal People, The Photographs of Robert Longden.
With acknowledgements to the Canal & River Trust for some of the above material

imagePeel Ports awarded CBOA Award of Excellence for increasing freight trade on the Manchester Ship Canal

The Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) has made an Award of Excellence to Peel Ports in recognition of the achievements made in recent years in increasing the inland freight and port handling capabilities on the Manchester Ship Canal which is owned by Peel Ports.

The wording of the certificate is “Award of Excellence - 2014 – Peel Ports - In recognition of the increased tonnages on the Manchester Ship Canal and the positive approach to encouraging and developing new barge traffic at Runcorn Docks”.

CBOA Chairman David Lowe presented the award on the 11th March at Runcorn Docks to John Rutherford, Terminal Manager Bulk MSC, due to his diligence, energy and enthusiasm.

Since Peel Ports began moving containers from Liverpool to Manchester, they have been rewarded by seeing trade increase significantly. Users include Tesco, Kelloggs and Princes Foods.

CBOA has been much encouraged by the start of enabling works for Peel’s planned container terminal at Salford at the Manchester end of the Canal.

John Rutherford’s help has been appreciated in establishing Runcorn as a centre to handle grain brought by barge from the Seaforth Grain Terminal in Liverpool Docks. This tonnage – destined for a customer in Stockport has doubled in recent years.

28 April 2014 Press Statement

CBOA welcomes Canal& River Trust’s Freight Strategy for its Yorkshire Waterways

The Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA), the trade association for the barge industry, today welcomed the announcement that the Canal & River Trust (CRT) is setting up a group to investigate greater use of its Yorkshire waterways for carrying freight, including reviewing what infrastructure improvements would be necessary for use by larger barges, so enabling greater payloads and the carriage of containers. The CRT group’s work will include exploring market potential, including with port operators; looking at what wharf and supporting industries may be required; and what support or grants could be available, including from the EU and local enterprise partnerships.

David Lowe, CBOA chairman, said “CBOA has for years been saying that the navigation authority should be pro-active in seeking freight and not sit back and only maintain the existing waterways on a status quo basis. So we welcome this sign that the CRT (which took over the waterways from the Government’s British Waterways nearly two years ago) not only sees a possible future for freight but is planning to do something about it.”

David Lowe went on: “Water freight has a role to play in the modern logistics world as an important part of the logistics chain – which is one reason we welcome CRT’s involvement with the ports industry. Barges can offer a competitive – and greener – alternative to lorries, using less fuel and emitting less greenhouse gasses. A barge carrying 500 tonnes with a 2 man crew can move the cargo more quickly than if they each drove HGVs.”
CBOA also welcomes the CRT statement that whilst concentrating on the Yorkshire waterways it will continue its support for freight on other commercial waterways at its present levels and will work with commercial firms wishing to develop new services; and that commercial craft on non-commercial waterways are welcome users.


For media enquiries, please contact David Lowe on 07785 -502478 or at

Notes for editors
CRT’s Press Statement can be found at

The CRT study group is drawn from the members of CRT’s Freight Advisory Group, as follows

Freight Advisory Group members
David Quarmby CBE – chair *
Mike Garratt (Managing Director, MDS Transmodal) *
Mark Grimshaw-Smith (Head of Rail & Sea, UK Operations, Cemex UK)
James Hookham (Managing Director, Policy and Planning, Freight Transport Association)
David Lowe (Chairman, Commercial Boat Operators Association) *
Ian Wainwright (Head of Freight and Fleet Programmes, Transport for London)

*= members of the steering group along with Stuart Mills, other Trust staff and external expertise with logistics experience

The Yorkshire waterways to be covered by the steering group are:

  • the Aire and Calder Main Line from Goole to Leeds, together with part of the Wakefield Branch to Wakefield Europort (Whitwood)
  • The Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation from the Aire and Calder Navigation to Rotherham Lock, including the New Junction Canal
  • The Ouse from Goole Railway Bridge (where the Trust’s jurisdiction starts) to Barlby (Selby).

Whilst concentrating on the Yorkshire waterways, the Trust will continue its support for freight on other commercial waterways at its present levels and will work with commercial firms wishing to develop new services.

FRAG’s report CRT did not consider the use of non-commercial waterways by commercial craft – whether carrying freight or providing services to the boating community - on the basis that FRAG and the CRT regard these vessels as welcome users, on the assumption that they operate within the current policies and arrangements for the operation and maintenance of the cruising network

CRT press release 25 April 2014

Trust welcomes Freight Advisory Group's recommendations on ‘Priority Freight Routes’

The Canal & River Trust is today publishing a report from its Freight Advisory Group into the current and potential future role of commercial inland waterways to carry freight. The Group recommended further investigation into ‘Priority Freight Routes’ (the designation of certain navigations in the North East that link to the Humber Estuary) where there is the opportunity for these waterways to be used for sustainable freight transport.

The Trust welcomes the Advisory Group’s recommendations and has established a director-led steering group to fully investigate the viability of the designated Priority Freight Routes, including exploring market potential with the major port operators. This work will also involve reviewing what infrastructure work might be necessary to remove obstacles to larger barges, so enabling larger payloads and the carrying of containers. The steering group will also look at what wharf and supporting facilities may be required and what support or grants could be available including from the EU and from local enterprise partnerships.

Whilst concentrating on the Yorkshire waterways, the Trust will continue its support for freight on other commercial waterways at its present levels and will work with commercial firms wishing to develop new services.

A conference in late spring to launch the report and seek a range of views will be organised in Yorkshire in partnership with the Freight Transport Association, to which the Local Enterprise Partnership, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, shippers, developers, operators, customers and logistics professionals will be invited.

The Freight Advisory Group, chaired by David Quarmby, is made up of professionals from the waterways, transport and logistics industry. David comments: “I am pleased that our report and recommendations have been welcomed by the Trust.

“What is clear is that the circumstances of each of the Trust’s ten commercial navigations are unique and very different from each other – different in their recent history of traffic and commodities, different in their connectivity to potential markets, different in the dimensions and draughts of vessels they can take, and different in the dredging and bank protections costs of making them fit for freight. There can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach to formulating policy for the ten waterways, or even for all sections of the same waterway.

“The identification of Priority Freight Routes and a clear framework for exploring opportunities will provide focus and a sound framework for the Trust to operate within, and for planned collaboration with port operators. Where feasible and viable, the lessons and experiences can be adopted to other commercial waterways.”

David Lowe, chairman of the Commercial Boat Operators Association, comments: “Carrying freight by inland waterways is no longer automatically on the radar screen of shippers, logistics companies and freight forwarders, except in one or two very niche markets. So exploring potential market demand is not just about analysing current freight movement by road or rail on the relevant corridors, and looking at how and where water can offer some competitive advantage; it also has to be about how to organise, modernise and present waterborne freight as a serious transport mode to a modern highly commercial logistics industry. I’m pleased that the formation of a steering group will take this forward.”

Stuart Mills, commercial director at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “Whilst most of our network is now used primarily for leisure, the larger waterways still have potential for sustainable freight transport. The advice of the Freight Advisory Group, including the potential for Priority Freight Routes, is well thought-through. The Group is made up of leading experts in the waterways, transport and logistics industry and is supported by preliminary discussions with port operators on the network. I’d like to thank the Group for their diligent and expert report and recommendations which we look forward to following up.”

The full report is available to download from the Canal & River Trust website:


For further media requests please contact:
Jonathan Ludford
t: 020 32044420 e:

Notes to editors:
The Canal & River Trust is the guardian of 2,000 miles of historic waterways across England and Wales. We are among the largest charities in the UK, maintaining the nation’s third largest collection of Listed structures, as well as museums, archives, navigations and hundreds of important wildlife sites.

We believe that our canals and rivers are a national treasure and a local haven for people and wildlife. It is our job to care for this wonderful legacy – holding it in trust for the nation in perpetuity and giving people a greater role in the running of their local waterways

Freight Advisory Group members
David Quarmby CBE – chair *
Mike Garratt (Managing Director, MDS Transmodal) *
Mark Grimshaw-Smith (Head of Rail & Sea, UK Operations, Cemex UK)
James Hookham (Managing Director, Policy and Planning, Freight Transport Association)
David Lowe (Chairman, Commercial Boat Operators Association) *
Ian Wainwright (Head of Freight and Fleet Programmes, Transport for London)

*= members of the steering group along with Stuart Mills, other Trust staff and external expertise with logistics experience

The Priority Freight Routes are:

  • the Aire and Calder Main Line from Goole to Leeds, together with part of the Wakefield Branch to Wakefield Europort (Whitwood)
  • The Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation from the Aire and Calder Navigation to Rotherham Lock, including the New Junction Canal
  • The Ouse from Goole Railway Bridge (where the Trust’s jurisdiction starts) to Barlby (Selby).

The FRAG report did not consider the use of non-commercial waterways by commercial craft – whether carrying freight or providing services to the boating community - on the basis that FRAG and the Trust regard these vessels as welcome users, on the assumption that they operate within the current policies and arrangements for the operation and maintenance of the cruising network

The Commercial Boat Operators Association has presented Canal and River Trust Chief Executive Richard Parry with a cheque for £250 towards the Trust’s National Flood Appeal.

CBOA Chairman David Lowe said:

‘The donation recognises the excellent relationship between the Trust and the Association. Although some of the waterways most affected are not used by CBOA members we recognise that repair work will inevitably draw funding away from work that does affect our members such as vegetation management, dredging, lock repairs etc.

We are also grateful to the Trust that stoppages for new lock gates at Sprotbrough and Aldwarke Locks on the South Yorkshire Navigation were done at the same time and not in different years. Disruption to barge traffic is never good news and two years of stoppages would have been bad news. We also recognise progress made towards minimising the effect of stoppages on our retail coal and fuel operator members. In addition, we are grateful to CRT for the swift removal of fallen trees recently and its general trees cutting programme this winter. Overhanging vegetation especially impacts on our members operating on the smaller canals of the Midlands etc where tree obstruction has been getting worse - especially on bends (the length of our members' boats means they need full width at bends).’

imageCBOA Chairman David Lowe ( a member of the CRT NE Waterway Partnership Board) joined CRT Trustee John Dodwell, Waterway Manager Jon Horsfall, and Freight Planner/Harbourmaster Stuart McKenzie for a visit to two stoppages which were taking place in February. Following extensive consultation with CBOA and our member John H Whitaker (Tankers) Ltd the stoppages at Aldwarke and Sprotbrough were re-scheduled to coincide so as to reduce the time the navigation would be closed and minimise inconvenience to Green Line Oils whose Rotherham works is supplied by oil from Hull docks by barge on a weekly basis. Jonathan Hoole (Operations Director) and Richard Ellis (Operations manager) from Green Line Oils (Exol Lubricants Ltd) joined the group at Aldwarke Lock. Jonathan explained that the barge deliveries were essential to the success of the Green Line operation for various reasons, including restricted access for lorries to the Rotherham site. It was anticipated that the deliveries would continue by barge for the foreseeable future and that there might be other opportunities to use inland waterway transport.

imagePhotos (by Charlotte Burnett-Wood, CRT’s Principal Waterway Engineer NE) shows the visitors with CRT staff in the bottom of Aldwarke Lock.

imageRobert Wynn & Sons again highlight the benefits of inland waterways freight carriage for abnormal indivisible loads - click here

Helm signs 10 year agreement with PD Ports at Howden

Helm Fertilizer Great Britain Ltd (Helm) has signed a 10 year agreement with PD Ports to operate a blending and bagging facility for its fertiliser imports at the Port of Howden.

The Port of Howden, which is owned and operated by PD Ports will also provide the stevedore service for this new agreement with the first vessel call expected in early 2014.

Once received, the fertiliser, which is being imported from Europe and North Africa will be stored at the port before being blended and bagged ready for onward distribution.

The arrival of Helm at the port will see an initial investment of over £500,000 spent refurbishing one of PD Ports’ existing on site warehouses, covering some 68,000 sq ft. With anticipated volumes of over 50,000 tonnes per annum, the Port of Howden will become the central UK hub for Helm who has previously used multiple ports of entry to import fertiliser.

Jerry Hopkinson, PD Ports’ managing director, bulks and port services, said: “We are delighted to have signed a long term agreement with Helm, which will provide a huge boost to the volume of traffic through the port. This new partnership also provides an excellent opportunity to expand the range of activities undertaken at the port as well as further secure its long term future and provide additional employment opportunities once fully operational.

"Howden was chosen by Helm to consolidate its imports based on its location and close proximity to rural regions such as Lincolnshire, as well as the excellent transport links to and from the port.

Having previously only imported fertiliser in bulk for onward distribution, Helm will make a significant investment in a state of the art blending and bagging machine that will be one of the first of its type within the UK. This will enable Helm to add further value and greater efficiencies in its supply chain by bagging fertiliser on-site before onward distribution.

This new machinery is capable of ensuring a precise mix of product, complemented by the first rotary screening system, to remove dust and oversized particles, ensuring the size, quality and consistency of the final product. It will also be capable of applying coating and micro nutrients to keep up with developments in fertiliser coating technology and crop requirements.

imageThe Association was once again asked by organisers the Inland Waterways Association, the Canal and River Trust, Thwaite Mill and Aire Action Leeds to provide a freight barge for display at the annual Leeds on Water Festival over the weekend 29th and 30th June. Member company Humber Barges Ltd was able to send the 450 tonne craft ‘Fusedale H’ up to the Thwaite Mill site, Stourton, Leeds after discharging gravel at Whitwood. She was an impressive sight and prompted many comments from visitors although the mooring, this year, did not allow the vessel to get close enough to the bank to allow members of the public to board. We are grateful to owners of private pleasure craft for assistance with turning and mooring and for their general interest and support. CBOA also had its new ‘pop up’ banner on display detailing the many aspects of CBOA’s work, along with a large banner on the vessel itself. Many thanks to Humber Barges Ltd and skipper of ‘Fusedale H’ Chris Oatway.

Photo by Mike Tucknott

In 2011, an application was made to Hillingdon Borough in West London for the redevelopment of a canal site site a short distance above Cowley lock, to provide a single storey Waste Transfer / Recycling Station, including associated alterations to access and parking arrangements. (Hillingdon planning reference 60930/APP/2011/2307)

It was subsequently approved on the 22nd June 2012, but with a condition added requiring a feasibility study to be carried out to assess the potential for moving freight by water during the construction cycle (for waste and bulk materials) and following occupation of the development (for waste and recyclables). It also stated that "the use of waterborne transport shall be maximized during the construction of the development unless the above assessment demonstrates that such use of the canal is not physically or economically feasible". The reason for this requirement was given as "In order to assess the potential of the site for freight, in accordance with AM18 of the adopted Hillingdon Unitary Development Plan Saved Policies (September 2007).”

This is good news that more local authorities are taking note of the potential use of the waterways for freight carriage within their district.

News - 7 May 2013

Brewer swaps asphalt for water

Dutch brewer Bavaria has shown it's not just its beer bottles that are green, with a new initiative designed to cut CO2 emissions as part of the firm's drive for even greater sustainability. Bavaria has signed a shared transportation agreement with Heinz and Mars, to move their products across Europe by inland waterways
Beer to the UK is shipped in 45 ft containers aboard river barges that head to the port of Rotterdam every day. By sharing the barge with confectionary from Mars and ketchup from Heinz, the full load ensures the environmental impact of distribution is significantly reduced for the three companies.

Bavaria UK Managing Director Mike Teague commented:

"In recent years, Bavaria has undertaken a range of measures to reduce emissions associated with transportation. We send our beers across Europe by train and were the first brewer in Europe to switch our distribution fleet to trucks that meet the low-emission Euro 6 standard.

"Hopefully we will see other European brewers and manufacturers follow our lead and start shipping to Rotterdam by barge for their global exports."

In recent years the measures taken by Bavaria have reduced transport CO2 emissions by 28%. This commitment to sustainability recently won the brewery a 'Lean and Green' award from Connekt, a group dedicated to the development of sustainable logistics in the Netherlands and beyond

Source: Container Management

imageA New Era for Viaduct Shipping
In order to better serve its customer, the Northwest based Viaduct Shipping has moved its unloading operation from Frodsham to Runcorn Docks. Whilst saddened to end a very long history of shipping into the inland port of Frodsham, for the time being at least, Viaduct Shipping found that in order to deliver the tonnages required by their customer they needed deeper water for the vessels to operate in and that has resulted in forming operational agreements with Runcorn Docks. Mike Carter, one of the directors of Viaduct shipping says. “It is great that there was such a willingness to see this move happen from Peel Ports Runcorn Operation and in particular John Rutherford”

David Lowe (CBOA chairman) commented “I applaud Viaduct Shipping, their customer and Peel Ports for having the enterprise to find an alternative wharf which will be easier to access and offers various other advantages.”

Viaduct Shipping operates a number of barges and small coasters which transport imported wheat from Seaforth grain terminal for onward transport to a Manchester mill. In so doing they take some 1800 lorry journeys off the roads each year in an equivalent to the saving in road miles of one HGV travelling twice around the globe.

Photo - ‘Panary’ with the first load of Canadian Wheat heading for Runcorn

Aecom floats ambitious £14bn mega-canal idea to ministers - click here

imagePRESS RELEASE: S. Walsh and Sons Ltd. to be Awarded Freight Trophy at Canalway Cavalcade
Issue date: 2nd May 2013

The May bank holiday weekend will see a colourful gathering of canal craft at Paddington’s Little Venice Basin for Canalway Cavalcade, and a reminder that our canal system provides wonderful opportunities for pleasure boating, fishing, walking and even cycle routes for commuters.

It is also worth remembering that the canal system was built to carry freight and while in this day and age much of the system is not ideally suited to this purpose there are certainly parts of our waterways where the freight potential should be taken far more seriously than often it is.

The theme for this year’s Canalway Cavalcade is Celebrating London’s Waterways and it is most appropriate that the occasion will be the opportunity to present the Vivian Bulkeley-Johnson trophy to a firm based in Brentwood. Bulkeley-Johnson was a canal enthusiast with his own cruiser but had also built up the Willow Wren company, one of the last major narrow boat firms. He gave the trophy to the Inland Waterways Association to be presented each year to an individual or firm that had made a significant contribution to freight carrying by water.

It is our pleasure that this year the trophy goes to S. Walsh and Sons Ltd. Starting in 1968 in the civil engineering plant business the company now provides a wide range of services to the construction industry. In particular they have increasingly used water transport and have a well developed marine division. Their barges are servicing a large number of sites including Lotts Road, Crossrail’s Canary Wharf station Blackfriar’s station, Crossrail and Thames Water’s tunnelling activities and land reclamation projects in Pitsea and Wallasea Island. Their fleet capacity has been increased by modernisation of existing craft and new tugs and barges from the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.

On behalf of S Walsh & Sons Ltd., Nick Walsh receives the IWA’s Bulkeley-Johnson trophy from Les Etheridge, the IWA National Chairman.

Mark Robinson, left, is Marine Manager of the company.

(Credit R Squires)

It is not unusual for people to comment on the lack of freight traffic on the Thames. David Hilling of IWA Freight Group thinks that “this is changing. On some days the Walsh company alone could have 10,000 tonnes on the water – just think of the 450 lorries that this keeps off London’s roads - a favourable image of water transport which others could bear in mind.”

Richard Parry is to swap trains for boats as he takes up the role of chief executive of the Canal & River Trust starting this summer.

Joining the Trust after more than a decade in senior roles managing large complex transport and infrastructure organisations, Richard comments: “I am really excited to be joining the Canal & River Trust at such an important phase in the future of the nation’s magnificent waterways. The scale of the opportunity is huge as what we and our supporters do in the next five years will help shape the waterways for the next century.

“I bring a track-record of managing similarly complex and challenging networks, together with experience of working closely with a wide range of interested and passionate people. I’ve got bags of enthusiasm for the waterways and have seen first-hand the shot in the arm that canals provide to the communities they flow through. Out on the towpath I have witnessed the hugely committed staff, volunteers, boaters and other supporters, and I look forward to the challenge ahead."

Currently at FirstGroup, Richard headed up First's bid in 2012 for the InterCity West Coast line and more recently has been leading First's highly-regarded Hull Trains company as well as other wider development programmes across First's rail businesses. Before that he spent 19 years at London Underground (LU) and Transport for London (TfL) where he had a range of senior roles, spending eight years as a director of LU, including a year as interim LU managing director (2009-10), and then a further 18 months as deputy managing director, TfL Rail and Underground (2010-11).

Richard is also a trustee of People 1st – the sector skills council for hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism – which works to transform skills in the sector, particularly in the areas of management and leadership, customer service and craft/technical skills.

Tony Hales, chairman of the Canal & River Trust, said: “I am delighted to welcome Richard to the Canal & River Trust. He joins one of the newest, biggest and brightest entrants in the charity sector – an organisation that shares his passion for the waterways.

“He has fantastic experience of managing complex infrastructure – something which is crucial for our network of lock flights, embankments, soaring aqueducts and other engineering feats of the industrial age. He has a strong record of leading organisations through change and recognises the importance of growing the engagement with the boaters, anglers and millions of others in the community who use and enjoy our wonderful waterways.

“I’m very pleased that Richard is moving from rail to water recognising the renaissance that has seen our canals and rivers come to life and the opportunity we have to give them a bright future.”

Richard, 46, married with two teenage daughters, lives in the West Midlands.

David Badger | Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Kellogg signs up to send more cereals on Manchester Ship Canal container shuttle, slashing its supply chain road miles by 85%

Global cereal manufacturer Kellogg has moved to substantially increase the efficiency of its supply chain and take hundreds of trucks off UK roads.

Kellogg has increased the volume of breakfast cereals it will transport using Peel Ports’ “green highway network”, which already serves other major retail names such as Princes Foods, Kingsland Wine, Tesco, Typhoo and Regatta.

Around 2,500teu of Kellogg’s cereal products will move between the shipper’s Manchester, Ireland and Iberia distribution hubs, transhipped at the port of Liverpool onto a coastal feeder service to serve the Irish and Spanish markets.

Kellogg has also taken advantage of the port of Liverpool’s “on demand” warehousing offering, with storage for up to 7,000 pallets of cereal product available at the port when required.

Kellogg’s use of the shuttle service will equate to an 85% reduction in road miles for its supply chain: a reduction of 40,000 road miles and 61 tonnes of CO2 this year.

Paul Blears, UK, ROI & Export Freight Operations Manager at Kellogg, said: “We are working closely with Peel Ports to activate the increasing opportunities for waterborne transport. By reviewing our supply chain strategy and integrating waterways we are seeing our sustainability goals come to life.”

Paul McCoy, Business Development Manager for Containers and Barge at Peel Ports said: “Peel Ports is developing a series of mini ports and multimodal logistics hubs at various locations along the Manchester Ship Canal, which means we can bring containerised products inland to exactly where the customer wants it.

“The Manchester Ship Canal is the UK’s largest inland seaway. The shuttle service makes an important contribution to the UK’s carbon footprint reduction targets by delivering waterborne goods right to the heart of the country, and it is great to see a world-class company like Kellogg capitalising on its benefits.”

BBC News - Gloucester Sharpness Canal used in £12m building project - click here

imageCredit to Barbara Panvel – CBOA Associate member

Biomass loads carried on waterways: cleaner and cheaper

Luke Geiver, Associate Editor of Biomass Power & Thermal, records that there have been an increasing number of inquiries from energy developers who want to transport biomass via barge on the country’s inland waterways.

Traditionally barges on British waterways have carried steel, timber, aggregates, oil, bricks, coal and more recently, waste and recycling materials.

In many instances, according to David Lowe of the Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA), moving biomass on a canal or river system can save time and money. This creates a competitive advantage for product which can be sourced and processed in close proximity to the waterway – “waterside to waterside,” as Stuart McKenzie, freight operations manager of British Waterways says.

Environmental benefits

McKenzie adds that waterway transport provides environmental benefits - according to Lowe, water freight produces just 20% of the greenhouse gases emitted by road transportation.

Commercial advantage

imagePhoto: Barge Consult

The biggest commercial advantage is linked to savings in fuel and labour. The Freight Transport Association estimates that fuel accounts for 40% of the costs associated with truck transport but only 20% for water transport systems. Lowe points out that one or two men working a barge can move more product than one or two men driving a truck.

Dalkia has  acquired the necessary planning permits to use the Aire & Calder navigational canal network to transport 360,000 metric tons of wood waste annually for use at a 53 MW power facility currently under development. They will use shipping containers to ensure time-saving and efficient loading and unloading processes.

As the costs of traditional roadway transport are closely tied to rising diesel fuel costs, it’s possible that there will be increasing interest in canal freight.

To read the full article, which adds news about American operations, go to

News - 6 February 2013

Bigger and better, greener and leaner

Size matters: increasing demand sees Peel Ports upgrade Manchester Ship Canal container barge service

Peel Ports has invested in a substantially larger vessel for their Manchester Ship Canal container service after another marked increase in demand from customers who include Kellogg's, Princes Foods and Kingsland Wine.

The move to the larger vessel, which operates on the UK’s largest inland seaway, follows a similar upgrade in May 2012. The service has already removed hundreds of thousands of freight miles from UK roads.

The Coastal Deniz has a 260 TEU capacity, which equates to more than a 60% increase in capacity compared to the previous vessel used. By transporting significantly larger volumes of containers per sailing, Peel Ports says it will increase the value it offers to its customers whilst significantly decreasing their impact on the environment.

The Deniz will make up to four sailings a week between the Port of Liverpool’s Seaforth container terminal and Irlam Container Terminal near Trafford Park in Manchester. The service also makes calls en route at Ellesmere Port.

Stephen Carr, Head of Business Development at Peel Ports said:

Our Ship Canal container service was already a compelling logistics solution, but it just got bigger and better.

We know that our customers value efficiency and sustainability, and this upgrade is just one of a number of initiatives we are able to offer them alongside port centric warehousing and consolidation. It allows customers to reduce their carbon footprint in a cost neutral manner.

The Deniz will move in the region of 20,000 containers in 2013. That’s 20,000 fewer containers making the journey between Liverpool and Manchester by truck. In terms of carbon footprint that’s a huge saving of around 1000 tonnes of carbon and 1.3 million km of freight taken off UK roads every year.

Peel Ports has a track record of being consistently innovative when it comes to increasing the efficiency of our customer’s supply chains. We are currently developing a series of mini ports and multi-modal logistics hubs at various locations along the length of the Canal, which means our customers will be able to move their goods from anywhere in the world right into the heart of the UK without touching an inch of road tarmac. The Manchester Ship Canal is a unique proposition which is transforming the way that many of our customers do business.

Peel Ports has operated a container barge service along the Canal since 2007. In 2009, the service handled 3,000 containers, a figure which had increased to 10,000 containers in 2011 and 15,000 in 2012. In addition to handling containers the Manchester Ship Canal handles over 7 million tonnes of dry bulk cargo and petrochemicals every year

Peel Ports is exhibiting at Multimodal on stand 410

imageInspector rules in favour of Leeds Wharves

In July 2011 Leeds City Council Planners published the‘Leeds Natural Resources & Waste Local Plan’. The Plan will form part of the statutory development plan under the Government’s new Local Development Framework and as such applications for planning permission will need to comply with it. In accordance with planning rules it was examined in public between November and December of that year.

The Inspector’s report has just been published and following some minor revisions the Inspector, Melvyn Middleton, has upheld the plan as ‘sound’.

Part of the Plan deals with protection of existing canal wharves (and other locations with wharf potential) in Leeds, including the former BW (now CRT) Leeds Inland Terminal at Old Mill Lane Knostrop. British Waterways had initially supported protection of this site but this policy was reversed by the Canal & River Trust owing to perceived ‘bad neighbour’ issues affecting residents of the nearby recent Yarn Street development on the former Goodman Street and Hunslet wharves. The Inspector has ruled that such issues could be resolved saying “this is a large site and it would be possible to screen a canal development from the housing and to locate any noisy aspects of such a development away from it. Its inclusion in the plan as a safeguarded inter-modal transfer site is therefore justified and effective as well as contributing to a requirement expounded by national policy. “

The other existing protected wharves are at Haigh Park Road (now used by ASD Metal Services for storage) and the Fleet Oil Terminal.

The Plan also protects a large CRT site in Skelton Grange Road with potential for a new wharf which had been earmarked by BW as a container terminal but could also be used for handling general cargoes and marine aggregates. The Inspector has ruled that protected sites should not be sterilised indefinitely, will be subject to five yearly review, and that under certain conditions activities not utilising water transport could be permitted.

It is expected that the Plan will be approved by Leeds City Council in February 2013.

CBOA Chairman David Lowe said “This is an excellent result and justifies the hard work of CBOA officers who have worked with Leeds City Planners on this project. We are grateful to the many CBOA members and others who have written to planners in support of this policy and this obviously impressed the inspector. It is now up to the industry, its customers, planners, and the Canal & River Trust to work together to maximise use of these facilities.”

imageViaduct Shipping announces a Record tonnage in anniversary year

For 30 years wheat has been coming into Frodsham and Cheshire destined for a local mill and the barge operators - Viaduct shipping, are going from strength to strength. Last year they shipped a record 25,000 tonnes of high grade imported wheat which is the result of a recent expansion plan that saw a bigger unloading crane in 2009, a the acquisition of an additional vessel ‘MV Loach’ in 2010 and the commissioning of a second unloading option with the Dutch supplied suction system. “It's a tough trading environment at the moment but I’m very happy with where we have got to in the last 3 years since I became involved” said one of the directors Mike Carter. “..... but our plans extend beyond this and we are actively involved in various other barge traffic opportunities in the northwest – and welcome enquiries from others.” Pete Hugman – the chairman of the commercial Barge Operators Association (CBOA) added “to have expanded to this degree in the current climate is a great achievement and demonstrates that where there is a willing and committed customer then water based freight can successfully form an important part of an efficient integrated system of transporting goods.”

Every year the Viaduct shipping operations are saving 46,000 road miles (that’s nearly twice around planet earth!) and 1786 lorry journeys. It is estimated that in the 30 years that they have been operating, ¾ of a million road miles have been saved and 30,000 lorry journeys.


‘Loach’ and ‘James Jackson Grundy’ unloading at Frodsham.

Further information can be obtained from:
Viaduct Shipping

The Commercial Boat Operators Association
David Lowe, Chairman, CBOA Tel: 01924 261870 or 07785-502478

The Insurance Partnership and CBOA are pleased to announce a new insurance scheme available exclusively to CBOA members. CBOA
Designed in collaboration with CBOA and in conjunction with specialist transportation solicitors Myton Law, the scheme pulls together the traditional elements of Maritime underwriting and offers them as a combined package, under a single policy.
This saves time and effort for members who traditionally may have used the services of multiple insurers and brokers to achieve the same result. By issuing a single policy that combines several elements together we are also able to deliver extremely competitive premiums and reduce the administration burden that insurance has on members.
The package is able to combine one or more of the following cover elements, as required:

  • Hull and Machinery
  • Protection and Indemnity
  • Cargo Liability
  • Loss of Use
  • Offshore Extension
  • Additional Perils
  • Employers and Public Liability (onshore, offshore and on the quay)
  • Plant and Machinery cover (machines used for loading and unloading)
  • Defence & Pursuits

Additional covers are available for consideration on request.
Use of the scheme also includes a new set of Terms and Conditions of Carriage which are available exclusively to CBOA members.
Enquiries to be directed to Paul Buckle or David Hamilton on 01482 213 215 or email
For more information - click here

imageMyton Law Ltd
Date: Monday, January 16, 2012

CBOA adopts new insurance provision and conditions of carriage

The national Commercial Boat Operators Association has been working with The Insurance Partnership and specialist shipping law firm Myton Law, both based in Hull, to develop a dedicated insurance scheme and standard conditions of carriage for its members.

The UK’s waterways carried 41.4m tonnes in 2009 (latest DfT statistics), including tonnages by ship to inland ports. Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change has said that moving freight by water is more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly per tonne per mile, with barges producing only 25 per cent of the carbon gases that lorries do. The CBOA reports that fuel accounts for about 20 per cent of barge operating costs, compared with 40 per cent for lorries (according to the Freight Transport Association).

The CBOA represents the UK’s major inland waterways operators, including narrow boat, barge, and small sea going vessel owners. Its members are active in the four main rivers/estuaries of the Thames, Humber, Mersey and Severn. The CBOA has nearly 100 members, including associates.

Work undertaken for the CBOA by The Insurance Partnership and Myton Law is aimed at ensuring members’ insurance provision and conditions of carriage are up to date and fit for purpose as the industry targets further business growth from companies considering freight carriage on our waterways in order to meet environmental goals.

Peter Hugman, chairman of the CBOA, said, “We are confident this comprehensive approach to insurance and management of contractual obligations will provide greater clarity and peace of mind for both our members and their customers. The Insurance Partnership’s expertise in insurance and the experience of Myton Law in legal transportation matters have been of considerable value in this review.”

Paul Buckle of The Insurance Partnership said, “The CBOA is an association with nationwide recognition and we are delighted to be able to provide a bespoke insurance package for its members.”

Myton Law’s John Habergham added, “Based on up to date law and, in particular, international conditions for the carriage of goods by sea, the new standard Conditions of Carriage will help to protect both CBOA members’ and cargo owners’ interests by establishing a fair balance between each of their responsibilities.”

The Insurance Partnership and Myton Law have been working with the CBOA for the last year to arrive at the new insurance provision and conditions, which have now been adopted by the CBOA.

The Commercial Boat Operators Association is a trade association which furthers its members’ interests by publicising and promoting the development of freight traffic on the inland and estuarial waters of this country.

The Insurance Partnership controls gross written premiums in excess of £50 million per annum, £100 million funds under management and employs in excess of 180 people across the Group over six offices throughout the UK. TIP provides a wide range of services which include; insurance broking, health insurance, health & safety services, financial services and commercial finance.

Myton Law provides legal advice to regional, national and international exporters/importers, ship owners, port operators, logistics companies, insurers and insurance brokers.

The Commercial Boat Owner’s Association
The Insurance Partnership
Myton Law

imageCBOA Award for Green Line Oils


500 tonnes of lubricating oil from Hull being unloaded at Green Line Oils Rotherham blending plant. This barge takes 25 lorries off the roads

Green Line Oils began taking 17,000 tonnes a year by barge. This has now risen to 35,000 tonnes a year. They move about 700 tonnes a week, unloading a barge every 3-4 days. Each barge takes as much as 500 tonnes, replacing 20 road tankers.

Green Line Oils engaged Hull-based motor barge tanker company John H Whitaker (Tankers) Ltd to transport the oil from Hull to Rotherham on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation.

When making an Award of Excellence, John Dodwell, chair of CBOA, said “Green Line Oils is currently taking the equivalent of 2,800 return lorry journeys off the road each year. And, as they themselves say, they have reduced their costs by using waterways in place of roads We hope that other movers of bulk liquids will follow the Green Line Oils’ example.”

He adds that using barges is a “much more efficient” use of labour than using road tankers. A crew of three is needed for each 15 hour barge tanker journey. The same three men driving road tankers would need seven trips to complete the delivery and this could not be done in the same time.

imageLeeds Planners to Safeguard Six Wharves

Leeds City Council proposes to safeguard six wharves in Leeds as part of their mineral long term strategy. Originally, two were proposed but the increase came after CBOA’s representations.

The Leeds area is an importer of aggregates and the planners were concerned how to get sand and gravel into Leeds with the minimum effect on roads. Spotting that the Aire and Calder Navigation can takes barges with capacity of 500 tonnes and more, the planners came up with their proposals.

CBOA congratulates Leeds City Council and looks forward to other councils safeguarding their wharves – following London’s lead where there are 50 safeguarded wharves.

500 tonnes of aggregates passing quietly through Yorkshire


London's business leaders have reiterated their support for the Crossrail project on the day Crossrail announces that more than five million tonnes of material excavated from the project will be transported by boat along the Thames for use in landscaping projects. These include a new 1,500 acre nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex.
Today Crossrail signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Port of London Authority (PLA) to confirm its commitment to use barges and ships along the Thames to move its excavated materials. If the equivalent five million tonnes were to be transported by road they would require up to half a million lorry journeys.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:
"Moving five million tonnes of earth excavated from the centre of London requires a solution of Herculean proportions. Using the barges rather than the roads is a supremely brilliant plan and it brings joy to my heart to see them make their way up and down the Thames.
"Using barges avoids the need for a huge number of lorries to grind their way through the city. It also brings together two of our key priorities - making better use of the river and keeping digging for Crossrail.
"Crossrail will add at least £20 billion to the economy and employ some 14,000 people. It is crucial to London's economic prosperity and I'm absolutely delighted to see work steaming ahead."
During the delivery of Crossrail, Europe's largest construction project, a total of 7.3 million m³ of material will be excavated, which is the equivalent of covering the whole of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens with a three metre layer of soil. Close to 100% of the 7.3 million m³ of excavated material is expected to be clean and uncontaminated and can be reused elsewhere. The project will maximise the use of water and rail for the transport of excavated material, and project managers estimate that on a tonne per kilometre basis, 85 per cent of transport of the material will be by rail and water only.

Commenting on the proposals Transport Minister, Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP said:
"This is a welcome announcement, which underlines the green credentials the Government is keen to see applied to this huge project, while reducing disruption to London's busy streets.
"We are building a new railway line that will benefit millions of people, both directly and indirectly. By using excavated material to redevelop Wallasea Island and aid regeneration in Kent we are also creating a legacy which will benefit areas far beyond the route for generations to come."

Crossrail Chief Executive, Rob Holden said:
"All construction projects by their nature will result in some degree of disruption but it is critically important that the impact on central London is kept to a minimum while Crossrail's construction is underway.
The final destinations for the excavated material in Essex and Kent have been specifically chosen to ensure that the vast majority is transported by either rail or river thereby limiting the impact on the road network.
"That's why we've signed up to work with the PLA to help us make the most of the river for the project. Using the river is fundamental for us. You can move much more material on the river in one barge compared to a single lorry; doing so also takes much less energy and generates far fewer environmental emissions."
Port of London Authority Chief Executive, Richard Everitt said:
"The Thames is London's greenest highway. It's already the busiest waterway in the country. We've been working alongside the Crossrail team to help them make the most of the river to help keep the impact of the construction of the rail links to a minimum. Our role is to help turn their vision into reality, linking their construction operations with sites on the river for handling materials. Today we're talking about moving materials out of the capital. Just as important is using the river to get the vital building materials to site and that's something we're already working on."

Transportation of excavated material
Excavated material from tunnelling will generally be removed by rail and water while construction material from stations and station related work such as permanent access and ventilation shafts will generally be initially removed by road and then transferred to the river. Crossrail is working with the Port of London Authority and British Waterways to promote and maximise the use of water transport for delivery of construction materials and the removal of construction material and waste, and with the rail industry to ensure a joined-up approach to the use of rail for transportation of materials.
Excavated materials from eastern tunnelling sites will go direct by river to Wallasea Island in Essex and to two regeneration sites in Kent. Material from the western tunnelling site at Royal Oak near Paddington will go by rail to the sites in Kent while some material will go by river to Wallasea Island. The Grand Union Canal is located in close proximity to the Royal Oak tunnelling site and Crossrail is considering what potential role it can play with the transfer of excavated material and the delivery of construction materials.

Wallasea Island
At least two-thirds of all Crossrail excavated material, or 4 million m³, will be used to create a huge wildlife reserve in Essex. Clay, chalk, sand and gravel taken from the construction of Crossrail will be transferred by ship to Wallasea Island, eight miles north of Southend-on-Sea, which the RSPB will transform into 1,500 acres - nearly 2.5 square miles - of tidal wildlife habitat.
Last year the RSPB submitted a planning application to Essex County Council and consent was issued on 9 July. Development of Wallasea Island is expected to start in 2010.

Canary Wharf
Construction started on the Canary Wharf Station in the North Dock at Canary Wharf on 15 May 2009. The work requires approximately 150,000 m³ of materials to be excavated, which equates to approximately 300,000 tonnes. Not all of this will be transported - the preference is to test and re-use as much excavated material as possible on-site. The aim is to reuse around a third of the excavated soil.
Material that does have to be transported will predominantly be taken via river-borne barges, removing an estimated 20,000 lorry loads from East London and Essex roads. Much of this material will transported downstream to the Veolia Environmental Services Pitsea landfill site at Holehaven Creek. The first barge arrived at Pitsea on 23 July.
This material will help to transform the Pitsea site from landfill to high quality land for public access, without disturbing the nearby tidal mudflat, which is a 'site of special scientific interest'.
Canary Wharf Contractors has a long history of using water to transport construction materials. This helps it to alleviate impacts on the local community and environment and reduce costs and construction time.
Barges in use at the Canary Wharf site
• There are eight barges in use. There are normally 3/4 onsite at any one time.
• The largest a 350 tonne capacity. The smallest is a 120 tonne barge
• The large barges are approximately 25m x 6m wide and the smaller ones are 15m x 2m nes.

Crossrail press-release

PRESS RELEASE: 6 May 2009 - To download study, click here
CBOA welcomes River Trent Freight survey result and urges action on recommendations

  • 1 Million tonnes of potential cargo already identified
  • Call to consider enlarging the river to Nottingham
  • Need for water freight promotion officer
  • Wharves need safeguarding from housing
  • Opportunities in waste and other traffics

The Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) today welcomed the publication of the Peter Brett Associates’ (PBA) report commissioned by the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), East Midlands Regional Assembly (EMRA) and British Waterways (BW) into Current and Future Prospects of Freight Moving on the River Trent.

CBOA is pleased that:

  • Up to 1 million tonnes of cargo has already been identified that could move by barge
  • PBA suggest enlarging the locks between Newark and Nottingham to be considered to enable 61m by 6m barges (carrying 600 tonnes) to reach Nottingham and suggest dealing with the notorious bottleneck at Newark Nether Lock
  • PBA recommend for the next steps to be
  • The appointment of a full time water freight promotion officer
    • A special focus on trial waste and recyclate movements from Colwick, near Nottingham
    • a promotional leaflet to spell out to industry the advantages of using barges
    • a workshop for planners and industry on securing growth in freight movements
  • PBA emphasise the need for an immediate focus on waste strategies to identify where waterside waste facilities can be installed
  • PBA recommend strengthening planning policy so the authorities
    • safeguard wharves for cargo-handling and prevent their being lost to housing (The consultants have produced a list of such wharves)
      o promote the transport of freight by water and encourage innovative measures to make water freight more sustainable
    • ensure that new developments close to the River should maximise using water freight (especially during the construction phase)

CBOA urges EMDA, EMRA and BW along with other members of the steering group to devise an action plan for success to take forward PBA’s recommendations. John Dodwell, CBOA’s Chairman said:

“It is well known that water freight is the most “green” form of transport. We welcome PBA’s suggested next steps and congratulate EMDA, EMRA and BW in taking the initiative in getting this report written. We were members of the steering group covering PBA’s report and look forward to working in partnership with EMDA, EMRA, BW and the other steering group members in developing how the citizens of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire can benefit from less heavy lorries on their crowded roads”

John Dodwell went on:

“There are some parts of the PBA report that need further investigation than was possible within the confines of the brief given to PBA. I have in mind the approach to the Newark By pass idea. This would mean canalising the old River to the west of Newark and so avoid the restrictions on barge size caused by Newark Bridge. PBA give a very wide range of estimates, apparently based on costs connected with a lock being built in East London for the Olympics. I am not convinced this is a valid comparison – nor that there have to be two locks for a 14ft difference in water levels”



Further information and pictures, contact:
CBOA: John Dodwell, Chairman, 020-7231-6247 or 07802-961485.
Email and

Notes for editors:
CBOA is the trade association for companies which carry freight on the UK’s inland and estuarial waterways. CBOA members collectively offer a one-stop service to advise companies on what can be done to take freight off the roads and on to water to capture economic and environmental benefits.

imagePRESS RELEASE ~ 29 April 2009

CBOA award for local success Wood, Hall & Heward’s construction focussed brochure

The Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) has given its highest Member’s award, the Award of Excellence, to Wood, Hall & Heward. The citation commends the contemporary design of their promotional brochure highlighting the new age of the waterways and showing the benefits that construction site managers can gain through using barges.

Based at Harefield, Middlesex, the company are water transport specialists. They were established relatively recently in 1997 and now operate more than 40 craft on rivers and canals in London and the south east. This enables them to take up to 80 tonnes in a single barge- the equivalent of four rigid lorries.

Their main areas of activity include delivery of construction materials, transport of aggregates, waste and recyclates, the delivery of abnormal loads to site by barge, and infrastructure maintenance.

The presentation to Wood, Hall & Heward is to be made on 29 April 2009 at a Shippers Voice supply chain insight seminar at Multimodal, the transport and logistics exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, by CBOA chairman John Dodwell. He says:

“In the comparatively short time they have been operating, Wood Hall & Heward have clearly demonstrated that working the waterways is very much an activity of the present - and future – not just the past CBOA welcomes their production of a contemporary brochure focussed on how construction site managers can benefit from using barges”

He adds they have seized the opportunity to show the benefits of using the waterways rather than roads, especially in congested urban areas. A major recent contract was the delivery to the new Kings Place cultural centre at Kings Cross, London of thousands of tonnes of steel beams and granite faced cladding panels

Wood, Hall & Heward are now carrying out trials for Crossrail in moving excavated earth out of London

It’s the first time the CBOA has made Awards of Excellence. This first year there were two, the other going to Exol Lubricants subsidiary Green Line Oils. The West Midlands-based company won the award for its ‘vision, commitment and good business sense’ in using waterways as the vital link to transport base oil from the port of Hull to their blending plant at Rotherham.


Further information, contact
CBOA: John Dodwell, Chairman, 020-7231-6247 or 07802-961485. Email -
Wood, Hall & Heward: Gerry Heward, 07951-026174. Email -
Multimodal: Emma Murray, 07711 614 655, email -

Note for editors:
CBOA is the trade association for companies which carry freight on the UK’s inland and estuarial waterways. CBOA members offer a one-stop service to advise companies on what can be done to take freight off the roads and on to water to capture both economic and environmental benefits.

imagePRESS RELEASE ~ 29 April 2009

CBOA award for local success Green Line Oils
‘vision - and good business sense’

The Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA) has given its highest award, the Award of Excellence for 2009, to Green Line Oils. The citation recognises the company’s ‘vision, commitment and good business sense’ in using waterways as the vital link to transport base oil from the port of Hull to their blending plant at Rotherham, Yorkshire.

Green Line Oils is a subsidiary of Exol Lubricants, the Wednesbury, West Midlands-based company. Exol Lubricants is the UK’s largest independent lubricants company.

Green Line Oils began taking 17,000 tons per year by barge. This has now risen to 35,000 tons a year. At present they move on average about 700 tons a week, unloading a barge every 3-4 days. Each barge takes as much as 500 tonnes, replacing 20 road tankers.

Green Line Oils engaged Hull-based motor barge tanker company John H Whitaker (Tankers) Ltd to transport the oil from Hull to Rotherham on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation.

imageThe presentation of the Award is to be made to Steve Everitt, Managing Director of Exol Lubricants, on 29 April 2009 at a Shippers Voice supply chain insight seminar at Multimodal, the transport and logistics exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, by CBOA chairman John Dodwell. He says:

“Green Line Oils is currently taking the equivalent of 2,800 return lorry journeys off the road each year. And, as they themselves say, they have reduced their costs by using waterways in place of roads We hope that other movers of bulk liquids will follow the Green Line Oils’ example.”

He added that using barges was a “much more efficient” use of labour than usingroadtankers.A crew of three was needed for each 15 hour barge tanker journey; the samethree men driving road tankers would need seven trips each to complete the delivery and this could not be done in the same time.

A Freight Facility Grant (FFG) from the Department for Transport contributed to the cost ofinstalling the storage tanks at Rotherham. As the tonnage increased and more storage tanks were needed at Rotherham, a second FFG was obtained. These FFGs are made in recognition of the environmental benefits of taking traffic off the roads.

It’s the first time the CBOA has made Award of Excellence. This first year there were two, the other going to the Harefield, Middlesex-based company Wood, Hall and Heward Ltd for their innovative promotional brochure. The company are water transport specialists and the award citation commends the contemporary design of their promotional brochure for highlighting the new age of the waterways.


Further information and pictures, contact:

CBOA: John Dodwell, Chairman, 020-7231-6247 or 07802-961485.
Email and
Exol Lubricants: Steve Everitt, Managing Director, 0121-568-6800.
Email -
John H Whitaker (Tankers) Limited: Mark Whitaker, Managing Director, on 01482-595300 Email
Multimodal: Emma Murray, 07711 614 655, email -

Notes for editors:
CBOA is the trade association for companies which carry freight on the UK’s inland and estuarial waterways. CBOA members collectively offer a one-stop service to advise companies on what can be done to take freight off the roads and on to water to capture economic and environmental benefits.

John H Whitaker (Tankers) Limited are a family owned business based in Hull and have successfully operated in the inland waterways and coastal tanker market since 1880. Whitakers specialise in bunkering visiting ships in the ports around the UK and also have fleet of inland barges capable of carrying all grades of bulk liquids within the United Kingdom.

imageFreight by water – A return to a golden age

The idea of freight returning to the 2,800 miles of navigable waterways crossing the United Kingdom has, for many years, been little more than wistful dreams thought up by those who hark back to a distant past when shire horses pulled barges along tow paths and real men smoked pipes.

But over recent years various interested parties have been taking a serious look at how the canals and waterways could once again be opened to freight transport and this time they may have cracked it.

The high profile launch, by British Waterways in 2003, of a scheme using barges to transport of 450,000 tonnes of sand and gravel between Denham and West Drayton, thereby removing 45,000 lorry loads off the road over a seven year period, went some way towards illustrating that it was indeed possible for a return to carrying freight on smaller waterways, albeit with limited applications.

However, over the last five years, huge steps in the development of water transport has been made and British Waterways’ partner in the Denham project, Land & Water Group has now designed and built a high capacity barge which makes freight transport on canals an environmentally and, perhaps more importantly, financially viable alternative to road haulage.

A framework dredging contractor for British Waterways since 2001, Land & Water was instrumental in the design and ongoing management of the entire Denham project from launch to the current day. It has first-hand experience of the limitations of operating on inner city canals and many lessons have been learnt since the launch of the original barges designed to carry the sand and gravel quarried in Denham.

As with any waterway, canals need to be maintained in order to keep them operational and British Waterways undertakes an extensive programme of dredging and maintenance throughout the year. Despite this, traditional barges are limited as to the weight they are able to carry due not only by the depth of the canal, but also the amount of water a fully loaded barge displaces. In order for freight by water to be a viable, cost-effective option, a special barge must to designed and built to cope with the unique conditions found in the waterways around the UK.

Land & Water Group’s Regional Contract Director Bill Gush comments, “The original concept for Denham was sound, and the unique bow configuration has gone a long way to minimise wash and disturbance on the waterway. However, whilst the canal meets modern leisure craft navigational standards, the waterway profile is still reduced from that of it’s original commercial cross section. By using a high displacement barge the vessel can suffer from ‘Restricted Water Syndrome’, this is a phenomena first identified on the approaches to locks on the Panama canal, where high displacement vessels ‘hogg’ or ‘squat’ onto the waterway bed, as water cannot freely reach the propulsion at the stern of the vessel.”

Taking these lessons learned, Land & Water has developed a new Olympic class hopper barge to operate on waterways that may suffer the same syndrome. The new, light-weight vessel is extremely shallow drafted, taking advantage of Land & Water’s light-weight hull and single skin floor design, and with a bow and stern that adopts the Denham hopper barge principle; Land & Water can now carry in excess of 85 tonnes, at an operating draft of under 1.37m (4ft 6in – the leisure craft navigation depth).

“This achievement unlocks all sorts of opportunities around the UK, and notably on the London’s Waterways” remarks Gush, “but to provide a truly integrated transport solution, we have designed the vessels to be rafted in groups of up to six, and when loaded to 75 tonnes capacity each, they are In-Class for navigation up and down the tidal Thames, and other similar category tidal waters. This eliminates the need for expensive transhipment, and opens a variety of avenues for multi-modal and multi-material transport.”

He continues, “To take the concept even further, we have included provision within the hold of the barge for a grillage to carry ISO container boxes which makes the carrying possibilities endless.”

The Olympic Barge is being pressed into immediate action in a partnership with Powerday plc, one of the UK’s largest and forward-thinking waste management companies. Over the last two years Powerday has invested over £12 million in a state of the art recycling center, based at Old Oak Sidings, Park Royal on the outskirts of London, which is able to convert all forms of industrial and domestic waste into a series of re-useable materials.

Once separated, the various waste constituents are all processed making this site one of the very few in the country which can genuinely claim to usefully recycle and reuse every constituent which comes through its gates. Waste wood is chipped and used at Slough power station to produce energy, nails are sold as scrap metal, plastics are separated and shredded before being processed for waste-to-energy and concrete is reduced to reclaimed aggregates and waste soils are recovered for re-use as a restoration soil at a remote landfill site, which is accessed directly by train from the site.

The recycling center is based on the Grand Union Canal, and Powerday has installed a 75m long quay to accept barges up to 90 tonnes fully laden. The combination of a custom designed barge and waterside recycling plant has made the concept of canal transport a genuine commercial option, and Land & Water and Powerday have formed a commercial agreement to jointly market and develop their multi-modal and sustainable solutions for waste streams and building materials in Central and West London.

Mick Crossan, Chairman of Powerday plc comments, “Freight transport by water has always been something of a pipedream, but the introduction of the Olympic barge has now made it possible for waste to be transported from multiple sites within London to the recycling plant here at Old Oak Sidings. It is a very exciting development.”

But it is the long-term potential, which is really exciting for the various parties involved. The Regents Canal links with the Grand Union, which passes through the heart of London, which in turn joins up with the Olympic site in Leytonstone in East London. In an age when pressure is on contractors to reduce traffic and pollution in the capital, freight transport by canal is now a viable alternative.

It is already possible for all forms of waste to be loaded into the barge at various collecting sites across the capital and transported along the canal network to the processing plant at Old Oak Sidings at a competitive cost to conventional alternatives and without the environmental impact that more traditional road haulage would have.

In addition, Land & Water has entered into partnerships with marine towage specialists GPS Marine Contractors Ltd. for tidal vessel movements on the Thames, and with S. Walsh and Sons (landfill and recycling operators in the East Thames Corridor) and a number of landfill operators in this area to provide a one-stop shop for East London and Thames-side projects.

With an impressive ability to haul large amount of freight along a network of canals ready and waiting to be utilized, the Olympic barge may just be the answer to those who dream of a return to yesteryear.

***Note to the editor
Powerday operates the largest Materials Recovery Facility in the south of England, and is licensed to accept a wide range of materials 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More than £12 million has been invested in the 1.6 million tonne recycling facility at Willesden Junction, which can receive waste materials by canal, rail or road. Recyclables can be moved out by all three transport modes, making it one of the most flexible facilities in the country.

for further information please contact:

Rod Kohler - Revolution PR

Tel: 0207 928 9999

For Powerday:

Jerome Veriter - Sauce Consultancy

Tel: 07894 515875

imageThe "green" barge shuttling containers up the Manchester Ship Canal from the Port of Liverpool to the heart of the North West of England is now making a regular "bus stop" call at Ellesmere Port en route to Irlam Container Terminal.

The push tug and barge discharged an initial 50 containers of organic molasses shipped into Liverpool's Royal Seaforth Container Terminal by Mediterranean Shipping Company from Paraguay, before sailing on up the Canal with boxes of Tesco wines bound for Manchester.

The molasses is being shipped into the UK by the Organic Division of Uren Food Group Limited, for distribution as livestock feed to organically certified farms.

Said Director James Uren, who founded the organic division of the family business 13 years ago: "The waterborne onward movement of the containers from the Port of Liverpool to Ellesmere Port fits well with the ethos of our organic activities and provides the most economic and environment friendly method of inland transportation."

imageThe dawn discharge of the containers at Ellesmere Port was undertaken by Quality Freight (UK) Limited using their new £1 million Liebherr 150 mobile harbour crane. An hour later, the barge sailed for its next delivery stop at Irlam Container Terminal on the Ship Canal.

Sebastian Gardiner, Managing Director of Quality Freight (UK) Ltd said: "It was a text book discharge operation which we now expect to repeat on a regular basis for containers carrying not just molasses, but other cargoes bound for the North of England. Quality Freight is working with Peel Ports to grow the volume of freight moved by barge and reduce the road miles and carbon footprint of the logistics industry."

The liquid molasses is moved from Ellesmere Port to the Shropshire processing plant of Prime Molasses Limited for distribution to farms and animal feed manufacturers across the country.

Frank Robotham, Marketing Director of Peel Ports Group which owns the Port of Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal, commented: "Adding a regular call at Ellesmere Port to the shuttle's sailing schedule increases the flexibility of the service to shippers seeking a cost effective and environmentally sensitive means of moving their cargoes in and out of the North West of England.

"We are delighted that more companies such as Uren Food Group are utilising this unique transhipment service to minimise both costs and their carbon footprint."

Press Enquiries:

Eric Leatherbarrow, Peel Ports: Tel +0151 949 6374, Mob: 07850 207613
Sebastian Gardiner, Quality Freight Tel: +44 (0)151 355 6006
James Uren, Uren Food Group Ltd Tel: +44 (0)151 353 0330

Press release - Bespoke Executive Solutions Ltd - 31st March 2009

Experience narrow boating on the Midlands canals.

Bespoke Executive Solutions Ltd is a Family run business offering an unrivalled variety of canal-based activities, with a portfolio of services ranging from trip boats to boat handling courses, camping boats to luxury Skippered charters, Bespoke Executive Solutions Ltd aims to be able to offer Narrowboating experiences to a wide ranging market.

2009 sees the launch of our group activity packages, aimed at corporate groups, clubs etc, up to 36 people. Families, individuals and organisations are not forgotten, see our website (below) for details!

Residential options are available for a whole weekend afloat, actually working 1930’s historic craft through the locks and visiting places of interest along the way.
Maybe just a three-hour cruise on our trip boat, that has 36 covers, a fully stocked bar and a dance floor, would suit your group?

Whether you just want to relax and enjoy an unusual view of the world as the boat glides along, or whether you are looking for a novel venue for that special celebration or group outing, our boats are ideal.

Email us at the address below and we will send you our latest E – Brochure with all the details.
Planning a boating holiday or even a career afloat…?

Bespoke Executive Solutions can also offer:

  • Taster days afloat and a basic qualification prior to your holiday.
  • NCBA, RYA & MCA Training.
  • Luxury Boat Holidays – With a professional Skipper, or self-steer.
  • Skippering services and crew provision.
  • Event Management, including venue and infrastructure provision.
  • Schools programmes and youth training, including special needs.
  • Floating plant and equipment to industry.
  • Consultancy services for the Leisure Industry, working along the Midlands canals.
  • Outdoor pursuits activities at canalside locations.

Bespoke Executive Solutions Ltd can be found at;

Office telephone: 01543 481868 Mobile 07527 727169