OFFICERS from the Environment Agency are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends the River Great Ouse has seen. The Inland Waterways Association is holding its annual festival – dubbed St Ives on Water – at Hemingford Meadow this Bank Holiday weekend.
OFFICERS from the Environment Agency are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends the River Great Ouse has seen.
The Inland Waterways Association is holding its annual festival - dubbed St Ives on Water - at Hemingford Meadow this Bank Holiday weekend.
Extra staff from the EA will be operating the normally unmanned locks at St Ives and Brownhill as the first of the 400 expected boats begin arriving in St Ives today (Wednesday).
River inspectors will also be in patrol boats to deal with any potential problems on the river.
Already officers have been called to the aid of boaters stranded by impassable locks on the Ouse and River Nene, ferrying food and water to those involved.
John Adams, regional waterways development manager for the Environment Agency, said: "Preparations have been going well, both in terms of the site itself and out on the river."
About 30,000 people are expected to visit St Ives over the course of the weekend, one of the highlights of which is expected to be the illuminated boat parade on Sunday evening.
Mr Adams said that as long as there were no extremes of weather, boaters should not have a problem navigating the canal and river network to reach the festival.
He said: "We had an issue with the canal under the railway bridge at Ely being out of action but that has now been resolved and it should be plain sailing from now on.
"The main concern we have now is the weather but the forecast is for it to brighten up at the weekend and fingers crossed it will be fine."
Boat owners arriving at the festival are being warned to expect queues at locks en-route, but Mr Adams insisted the situation was under control.
He said: "Not all boats attending the festival will arrive at the same time and with Environment Agency staff manning the locks, hopefully queuing times will not be too long.
"On departure, the Inland Waterways Association has timetabled slots for boats to leave and with the assistance of our officers this should help the event run smoothly.