The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

British Waterways should derestrict stretches of water where high speeds cause minimal disruption

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/27/2011 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,186 times Debate No: 16170
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




Picture, if you will, the scene. It is warm and sunny evening in late spring and the riverside setting in rural southern England is one of peace and tranquillity: the only sounds are the gentle lapping of the water, the reeds rustling in the soft breeze and the distant call of a barn owl from the woods beyond the water meadows.

Here an elderly couple stroll leisurely along the bank of the meandering river, wistfully admiring the surrounding fauna and flora and drinking in the mellow, soporific ambience.

Suddenly, the serenity of this idyllic locale is rent asunder as a Boesch sports boat rounds the bend, the taps on its mighty V8 opened full. In a flash, the boat roars past the old couple doing 55 mph on the plane and they exclaim in disapproving horror.

Outraged, the elderly gentleman calls the river police and gives them a description of the boat and its occupants and as a consequence the boat's driver is heavily fined when the police launch spots the Boesch moored outside a riverside pub a few miles upstream and finds the waterborne adrenaline junkies sitting at a table outside quaffing Pimm's and lemonade.

Now, you may conclude that the driver deserved his fine for disturbing the old couple's enjoyment of the countryside, but consider this: the driver in question is a responsible and experienced boater who slows down to the regulation speed limit where the riverbanks are unprotected by reed beds and when he passes other boats, either moored or underway.

Okay, you might say, why not choose another river or lake to take the boat on? Well, the shocking truth is that a maximum speed of 4mph is imposed across all British waterways [1] except Lake Windermere, which used to be unrestricted but thanks to the spiteful intervention of non-boating busybodies, boats are now restricted to a pathetic 10mph. [2]

Of course walking, sailing, fishing and bird-watching associations would want all the lakes and rivers to be for the sole use of ramblers, yachters, anglers and twitchers and to be out of bounds to fast boats, but they should be made to share a proportion of these natural resources with other responsible leisure users.

That's why the speed limit on British inland waterways should be relaxed on certain stretches of river and lakes where damage to wildlife and the environment and disturbance through noise to local residents would be minimal.

Thank you.



Thankyou to Pro for beginning a rather unique debate.
I will keep my arguments as concise as possible and do my best to provide a decent Con.
I will develop, explain and expand as well as summarize in round 2 :)

Main lines of argument

1. Pro has crucially overlooked one of the main reasons for a 4mph blanket speed limit. While he indentifies damage to wildlife and the environment and disturbance through noise' all as being valid reasons, he overlooks the issue of safety. The waterways are open to all, and many rent holiday boats and enjoy what the waterways have to offer - the experienced and the not so experienced. The 4mph speed limit trys to keep everyone as safe as possible. While you might be able to find stretches of water where you can reduce the impact on environment, noise etc, there will always be the possibility of other (sometimes many) boats, and it would be irresponsible for British Waterways to merely rely upon the aptitude of boaters. I therefore argue that a blanket 4mph speedlimit is necessary to ensure the safety of all boaters.

2. I quote "you are on the great inland waterways of Britain to enjoy a slower pace of life." In his humerous opening Pro seems to contend this, by implying through his use of the 'old couple' that perhaps these views are dated & conservative. I would argue they are not. British Waterways are synonymous with tranquillity for most users. While in some stretches of water, you may not find an old and easily angered couple, you may come across other boat users who are enjoying the slow pace of life, and relaxation the waterways provide. By increasing the speed limit, or at least taking away some restrictions, the waterways would be losing something valuable. The waterways provide people - I argue - with a place to escape from the rush and high tempo of ordinary on shore stressful life. I believe the majority would want to keep this slow pace on our waterways.

3. Finally, the waterways are full of holiday makers at certain times of the year. This inevitably means a large number of inexperienced boaters. Returning to point 1, the speed limit therefore keeps everyone as safe as possible, especially when there may be a large number of boats in the system.

While fast boaters may be annoyed and be inconvenienced by the restrictions, I believe they in are a minority, and most would want the blanket slow pace preserved.

I look forward to your closing round :)

Debate Round No. 1


With many thanks for andyh for his rebuttal, I should like to confirm that I agree that there are many more walkers, anglers, etc. than there are speedboat users on Britain's waterways. Indeed, it is a wonder anyone buys a speedboat at all in this country given that the maximum speed limit is a pathetically pedestrian 4mph.

Also, I realise that there are many inexperienced boaters on our lakes and rivers, though they are usually only to be found in hire (rental) boats with a limited maximum speed of 5mph, so the danger they can cause to themselves and others is, similarly, limited.

That's why I propose a scheme similar to that adopted in Germany for their highways. On autobahns, limited stretches are derestricted so that cars can travel at any speed. However, if drivers are deemed to be travelling too fast for the prevailing conditions, whether they be traffic- or weather-related, they will be prosecuted for dangerous driving.

So, while most of the British waterways will retain their speed limits, I merely propose that, given favourable conditions, speedboat owners should be allowed to open the throttle to exploit their crafts' full potential on certain stretches of water.

Thank you.


andyh forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by brian_eggleston 5 years ago
Some points are worth repeating!
Posted by andyh 5 years ago
I just realised I repeated myself in #1 and #3. How unprofessional haha
Posted by andyh 5 years ago
I just realised I repeated myself in #1 and #3. How unprofessional haha
Posted by andyh 5 years ago
this debate sounds fun but i will most my prelimary argument when i am less drunk
Posted by LaissezFaire 5 years ago
Yeah, it's 4. "The speed limit is four miles per hour on almost all waterways."

The rule is probably just for harassment--make it so that everyone's a criminal, then you can just choose to enforce it selectively, and arrest or fine whoever you want.
Posted by Grape 5 years ago
Wait, 4 mph? Not 40 mph? I kayak, and I think it would be difficult to go slower than 4 mph in those tiny, unpowered boats.
Posted by J.Kenyon 5 years ago
There's seriously a 4mph speed limit in all British waterways? That's crazy, I can swim faster than that. It's 55mph where I live, but it's only enforced when the lake is crowded, like on weekends or holidays. During the week, I take the jet ski 70mph all the time.
Posted by brian_eggleston 5 years ago
This is a serious debate, just for a change: the speed limits imposed on boat owners at the behest of spiteful meddlers really makes me seethe.

They don't enjoy travelling at high speeds in sports boats so they don't think anybody else should be allowed to, even if they are causing no harm.

Personally I am a nature lover and I would never allow my wash to destroy any birds' or animals' riverbank nests or burrows – and I never speed past other boats and I always reduce my speed top walking pace when passing through towns and villages.

However, where there are large bodies of water or where the wash is absorbed by reed beds, as is common in on the River Waveney and in the neighbouring Norfolk Broads, I believe I should be able to open the throttle a bit.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit, solid performance by Pro in any case.