Letter: Safety concern as Saltford winter mooring ban deferred

September 02 2021

Following a judicial review challenge by Community Law Partnership (CLP) on behalf of a liveaboard boater concerning the way the B&NES Cabinet resolved on 8 October 2020 to close the 14-day moorings during winter months, a decision has been made by the cabinet member for neighbourhood services, Cllr David Wood, in consultation with the director of environment to defer the decision to close the winter moorings.

It is not yet known when B&NES Council will review moorings in Mead Lane, but it has an ambition to end moorings in Mead Lane by the end of 2022.

This decision to end the winter mooring ban will be of concern to those boaters who have visited Mead Lane in the winter months and Saltford residents who are well aware of the dangers of winter flooding in Mead Lane and the high river flow rates at times, usually in autumn and winter, when the river is in spate after prolonged rainfall.

The flow rates have previously caused considerable erosion in Mead Lane; hence the riverbank repairs and bio-engineered stabilisation works by B&NES Council in 2005, which it then overlooked when the council encouraged moorings in Mead Lane for a mooring trial during 2017 and 2018.

The trial came about after moorings started to occur in Mead Lane from 2015, when boats first started to moor there due to a loss of moorings in Bath and other factors. Furthermore, the Canal and River Trust (CRT) has continued to issue more continuous cruising licences despite the lack of facilities on the Kennet & Avon Canal and River Avon.

Climate change is already widely acknowledged to be increasing the frequency of severe and prolonged rainstorms. You only need to see the news reports of the present devastating floods in Western Europe to recognise this - and those are summer rainstorms.

This decision to defer the winter mooring ban therefore raises questions over B&NES Council's commitment to its own declaration of a climate emergency. Adapting to climate change so that communities, including the liveaboard community, are more resilient and less vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events surely has to be an urgent priority.

Safe moorings in appropriate locations that are safe all year round needs to be part of how local councils with riparian ownership on navigable river respond to climate change impacts.

Saltford Environment Group