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25 Jul 2022
Globally there is a need to improve air quality and the UK government has proposed plans and bans to tackle the issue here. For example, the government has already proposed to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
The Department for Transport in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have committed to spend over £2.7 billion investing in improved air quality and cleaner transport. Clean air policies will also affect boating and canals in the medium to longer term – something we may not be so well prepared for!
Diesel engines are most commonly used on our inland waterways by boaters, and most boats used as a residence or for recreation are heated by solid fuel stoves.
Although inland boating only contributes to a small fraction of harmful emissions in the UK, all involved in the industry need to be planning ahead for changes that will limit the use of conventional diesel. Solar power for heating and energy production works reasonably well in the summer months, but these sustainable sources cannot be a comprehensive solution alone. The Canal and River Trust, alongside local authorities, are looking the potential for installing more electricity charging points – initially in areas with particularly poor air quality, but ultimately throughout the river network. Boaters will also be expected to consider adapting to a greener future and green mooring will absolutely be a part of the boating future.
Older or more polluting boats, just like cars will be phased out, as retro fitting electric solutions although a possibility may not be financially feasible. The Canal and River Trust do already offer a boat licence discount to electric boats, and many are embracing the change and converting to solar and battery power. The government’s clean maritime plan states that by 2025 there must be a structure in place to ensure all vessels are able to meet zero emission by 2050. Electric engines, solar panels and wind turbines will be a common site along our inland waterways.