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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Talks to take place about reducing lake speed limit

NATIONAL park bosses are to discuss the possibility of reducing the Windermere speed limit by more than 10 per cent.

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FLASHBACK: Boats during a protest rally against a speed limit on Windermere. National Park bosses are to talk about the possibility of reducing the speed limit by more than 10 per cent JON GRANGER REF: 0247904

Vessels have been able to travel no faster than 10 nautical mph (knots) – equal to 11.5mph – since the controversial limit was introduced in 2005.

But Richard Benyon, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries, has not supported changes to the lake’s byelaws which would have confirmed the 10-knot maximum speed limit.

The government minister felt there was insufficient evidence to justify confirming 10 knots as the speed limit, which an independent inspector concluded was appropriate after a lengthy public inquiry.

Instead, Mr Benyon said a 10mph enforcement would be more consistent with the results of the inquiry.

A 10mph speed limit would mean vessels on Windermere having to travel at least 1.5mph slower.

Nigel Wilkinson, chief executive of Windermere Lake Cruises and chairman of the Windermere Lake Users Forum, said such a change would have numerous implications. He said: “There are some centres around the lake, the Low Wood Marina for example, where they are continuing to offer some weight boarding and skiing facilities below 10 knots. Our commercial representative would need to speak to them and find out whether they can still continue doing that at 10mph.”

Mr Wilkinson said lake transport providers – such as his own Windermere Lakes Cruises, which carefully coincides with journeys on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway – would have to assess their timetables to examine the effects of a 10 per cent-plus speed reduction. He said: “The difference might not seem significant, but the consequences of actually having to operate in accordance with these rules may be.”

The Lake District National Park Authority will meet in Kendal on February 23 to consider a report on Mr Benyon’s decisions.

LDNPA director of park services, Bob Cartwright, said: “The minister has expressed a clear view that 10 statute miles per hour would be consistent with the conclusions of the public inquiry. So we will move on and look at how best to implement the changes.”

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