Keep the Middle Level Waterways free for all

Stop the privately owned Middle Level Commission from changing ancient bylaws to enable them to charge pleasure boaters to use the Middle Level waters. 

Fact: The Middle Level Commission has run a consultation on obtaining new powers and the amendment/repeal of certain provisions of existing bylaws, which ended on the 30th of June 2016.

Following this consultation, The Middle Level Commission now believes that they have sufficient support to proceed with an application to Parliament to conclude the process.

If they succeed, they will have the legal ability to charge owners of pleasure boats using the Middle Level a licence fee, which they currently cannot do under rights given to private citizens in the 17th century by the Duke of Bedford.

Like public footpaths around Britain, the National Trust owned parks like the Yorkshire Dales and Lake Windermere, the Middle Level is the last British navigation that is freely open to the general public.

We must stop them from stealing our public rights of access.

Yes these waterways need to be funded and they are and always have been. They are funded by the land owners through levies as without this drainage, the land would flood destroying their crops etc. They are also funded by DEFRA under the UK flood defences scheme.

No other waterway in the UK has this kind of funding, but equally the Middle Level is not really a navigation in the sense that other waterways are. Yes you can navigate through it, but there are no facilities provided by the Commission, other than a handfull of locks, some of which need to be there anyway to prevent tidal seawater from flooding the land.

Suspicion: The timing of Commissions recent consulation to overturn bylaws is closely aligned with a government memo (See link below) for the Canal River Trust to take over and manage the area's navigational waters.

UK Government / Canal-rivers-MOU

It is perhaps a coincidence and CRT may not want to manage the Middle Level, but the scrapping of the bylaws would certainly open the doors for further discussion. Afterall if they are managing the River Nene and Great Ouse, why not the small link between them?

We must show Parliament that we object to our rights & freedoms being given away to private companies and stand together on this issue. Please support this cause, thank you.

To contact the team, please email us at:

Dear Parliament, we the undersigned object to the erosion of our rights to freely access the Middle Level Navigation for the purposes of leisure. These rights were bequeathed to us, the people of Britain, hundreds of years ago and under no circumstances should they be given away.

Update #27 years ago
We are holding an urgent meeting with the Residential Boat Owners Association & the National Bargee Travellers Association to discuss the Bill of amendments at the end of the month. With luck they will agree to help us.
We are meeting at the Boat Inn on the Oxford Canal at Thrupp this Sunday (8/1/17) around 1.30pm.
It will be an informal meeting, but it would be good to show them that we care and how we could be adversely affected. Please come along if you can.
Update #17 years ago
UPDATE Dec 2016. Due to the launch of an official Bill by the Middle Level Commission, we have created a Facebook group to discuss our strategy to contest it in Parliament. If you use Facebook, the group can be found here:


Details of the Bill can be found here:
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