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Boaters dredge up silting fears after ship grounds

The Baltic Arrow got stuck when approaching the Port of Wisbech

Posted on July 1, 2024

Boatowners have raised concerns about waterways not being dredged in an area where a cargo ship got stuck in a river.

The 80-metre (262ft) Baltic Arrow got into difficulties in the River Nene when approaching the Port of Wisbech in Cambridgeshire early on Tuesday.

A director of a narrowboat firm said a stretch of water had recently been silted up and people have made online complaints about the Environment Agency.

The Environment Agency said dredging decisions were made after careful consideration.


Tracey Baxter, a director at Fox Narrowboats, based in March, Cambridgeshire, said there had recently been a problem on a stretch of water between Salter’s Lode and Denver.

She said the stretch had been silted up and was unusable between early April mid June.

The Environment Agency had carried out dredging, she said.

People also raised concerns online after reading about the Baltic Arrow’s difficulties.

The ship was carrying timber when it ran aground

“Not surprised with the state of the rivers,” said one person on Facebook.

“My narrowboat got grounded near there.

“The Environment Agency are a joke and don’t dredge the rivers any more.”

Another person added: “State of the rivers and ditches I’m not surprised. I live near the River Ouse and the last time I can remember that being dredged I was at school and I’m 60 this year.”


The Inland Waterways Association said dredging had been a general issue raised when boaters were recently asked for their views on the “state of the inland waterways”.

Survey results identified problems with a variety issues, including the “need for more dredging” and “vegetation management”, the association said earlier this month.

The Environment Agency said dredging was prioritised

“Dredging of watercourses is prioritised to provide the greatest flood risk reduction for people, homes and businesses,” said an Environment Agency spokeswoman.

“Unlike much of the river’s course, the River Nene in this area is tidal, which has to be taken into account when considering such works.

“The Environment Agency has previously removed build-up of silt from the channel sides near Wisbech but does not believe that further dredging would be necessary”.

The Baltic Arrow was freed and sailed into the Port of Wisbech

The Baltic Arrow had sailed from Riga, in Latvia – the captain reported “grounding” in the Nene shortly before 09:00 BST on Tuesday.

Wisbech Harbour Authority staff freed the ship late on Tuesday and she sailed into the Wisbech port.

A port official said the ship had yet to leave.


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