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Highlighting Britain’s inland waterways in new podcast


Nicki Schiessel Harvey discussed inland waterways on a new podcast

Researcher Nicki Schiessel Harvey recently highlighted the multiple benefits of inland waterways in a new podcast.

Shedding light on cost

Nicki, part of the School of Engineering and the Built Environment and the Water, Environment and Communities research group, spoke to Dr Amritpal Singh Agar on his podcast, The Cost of Everything.

The podcast aims to shed light on the analysis and understanding behind cost information and decisions, and has seen him interview various experts on different aspects of cost, economics and value.

Amritpal contacted Nicki through LinkedIn after reading some of her work.

“He’s a cost and estimating manager for Canal and River Trust (CRT), and was interested in understanding different approaches to valuing and costing works within the CRT remit,” Nicki explains.

“He had read a literature review and scoping report on the value of inland waterways, which I'd produced for the Inland Waterways Association.”

The importance of inland waterways

In the podcast, Nicki discussed the renewed importance of Britain’s inland waterways.

“They’ve changed from being transport highways of the industrial age to - after decades of neglect - heritage, greenspace and leisure assets in the heart of our cities, which are now being valued for their multiple benefits to urban health and wellbeing,” she explains.

“We focused on the social benefits of waterways and how the increased use of canal towpaths during the Covid-19 lockdowns have lent weight to the evidence base that the CRT are building to support their case for continued funding of the waterways.”

The power of the podcast

The podcast proved beneficial for Nicki, as it helped her reflect on further ways to promote her research.

“Amritpal was particularly interested in how we can 'measure' some of the very intangible values and social benefits of waterways. We all intrinsically know they're a good thing but how do we evidence this to the policymakers and funders?” she said.

“The podcast reminded us of the scale of the challenge and the need for building narratives around evidence.

My ongoing PhD research is looking at the way evidence is used in decision-making for inland waterways; an emerging aspect is this idea of the importance of storytelling to enhance the impact of evidence.”

Nicki is also hoping to contribute to other podcasts in the future.

“We spend so much time looking at screens that a podcast is an ideal way for people to engage with research and ideas,” she explains. “The 'storytelling' aspect of my work is making me consider how I can use them in future to explore reactions.”