Portage Point above Dedham Lock - canoeists and paddle boarders who must carry their craft past Dedham Lock.

Options for Change

In 2002 The River Stour Trust, together with the Environment Agency, Essex and Suffolk Water and the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley Project commissioned a feasibility study into the options for the future management of the Stour. It was called Options for Change and the consultants identified five options.

  • Option One was to take minimum action at a capital cost of £35k
  • Option Five would have given full restoration from Sudbury to the sea, at a capital cost of at least £12.6M
  • Option Two meant that the Stour wiould remain a tranquil river while giving good access to the public – the level of navigation for light craft and existing larger craft (over limited reaches) would be maintained at the 1975 level. (By light craft was meant canoes, kayas or other light craft which can be manually transported around obstructions) 

What the choice of Option Two meant  – after extensive, and somewhat acrimonious, public debate and consultation the Environment Agency decided on Option Two which cost £213k.

  • Portage Points were to be built so that a craft such as a canoe could be safely lifed from the river, past an obstruction and then returned to the river
  • Only one powered boat could be used on the lower part of the river and two on the upper part. These are the electric-powered barges that the River Stour Trust use today

Two Acts of legislation were relevant:

  • The Anglian Water Authority Act of 1977 placed an obligation for future maintenance “to at least as good a standard for navigation by pleasure boats as that to which they were maintained in the period of nine months immediately proceeding 8th December 1975.”
  • Bye-laws cover the type of craft which can be used. Between Henny Sluice and Cattawade, and between Brundon Mill and Ballingdon Bridge, the Navigation is restricted to manual or sail propulsion, except for craft operated by the River Stour Trust or *riparian owners, of the type that were in use on 25th October 1982.

In conclusion the Stour today is probably in a better state and cleaner than it has ever been.

*A riparian owner is someone who has any watercourse within or adjacent to any boundary of their property. Where a watercourse is sited between two or more property boundaries each owner may be equally responsible

Trusty - electrically powered tourist boat under Flatford Bridge