WHAT IS A NAVIGATION AUTHORITY?
For the purposes of defining its membership, AINA regards navigation authorities as being those bodies with statutory or other legal responsibility for the management, maintenance and operation of navigable inland waterways for navigation by powered vessels.
AINA members adopt the term ‘navigation authority’ by a variety of means. Some are defined as a statutory navigation authority in their enabling and/or subsequent Acts of Parliament, while others have acquired or inherited the status through local authority powers. The only reasonably well-established and generally accepted definition of ‘navigation authority’ in terms of UK national legislation is given in Section 221 of the Water Resources Act 1991 which says, “navigation authority means any person who has a duty or power under any enactment to work, maintain, conserve, improve or control any canal or other inland navigation, navigable river, estuary, harbour or dock”.
Whilst the rights of individual navigation authorities vary according to their enabling legislation, they will typically have a right to:
- implement a registration or licensing regime for boats on waterways under their control
- levy a licence fee, tolls or both on vessels using the waterway
- lay down rules regarding the manner in which vessels shall be navigated
Responsibilities of navigation authorities, again vary, but will usually include:
- maintaining locks and other structures to enable navigation
- dredging the channel
- flood risk management
Whilst a navigation authority may own the land over which the waterway runs, and usually does in the case of canals, this is not invariably the case and, particularly in the case of river navigations, the land beneath the river may belong to riparian land owners.