A couple of readers and now the council have got in touch to point out the issues caused by canal boats moored in the Kings Cross basin. It turns out that council regulation of smoke and noise from issues caused by canal boats at the other end of the tunnel in Islington has caused people to moor in Kings Cross instead. It’s one of those classic public/private issues that arises from high proximity city living, whether you are moored or in a house. Uneven enforcement moves the problem on elsewhere – a not in my back canal issue (ahem).
For boaters’ perspectives on this Islington issue see this Canal World discussion forum read down the thread for a balanced discussion on whether Islington berths are genuinely usable anyway and this good piece on Towpath Talk. However a real problem is being caused for local people in Kings Cross. A council pollution officer writes:
I’ve been asked by a local resident to email you and let you know about the problems they’ve been having with barges moored near their homes.
Over the past few years we’ve observed an increase in the number of boats moored along the canal as more and more people are choosing to live on the waterways; this is the case not just in Islington but also in neighbouring boroughs.
The increased numbers have also brought with them an increase in the number of noise and smoke complaints received by the council. This has been a particular problem at Islington Visitor Moorings (IVM -the stretch between Colebrooke Row and Danbury Street). We would usually find in the region of 18 boats moored in this location and due to the geography of the area the noise and smoke does not disperse very well leaving residents homes filled with wood smoke and diesel fumes plus quite often they were disturbed by noise from engines and standby generators.
The council has been working with the Canal & River Trust (C&RT) to resolve these issues and we’ve agreed a pilot project that aims to remove wood burning from this location in order to improve local air quality and also declare a quiet zone. This has been in place since November 1st and we’ve had a drastic decrease in complaints received.
Many of the boats that previously moored here have moved through the tunnel towards Kings Cross and now we’re receiving more complaints from this area.
The rules outside of IVM are slightly different in that boaters are permitted to burn wood for heating; the council is responding to every complaint to assess nuisance and if this is witnessed we follow up with the appropriate action. Once the pilot project is over we will be asking the C&RT to replicate the prohibition on wood burning across the canal network in Islington and also consider a feasibility for providing more mains power.
We are in the process of writing a best practice guide to reducing pollution from boating; particularly as the health of the boater is more affected than anyone else’s and we need to make people aware of what action they can take to reduce emissions as well as their own personal exposure.
Can readers remember what happened to the moorings that used to be West of the Maiden Lane bridge, where Kings Cross central is now? Couldn’t they be brought back there?