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Wednesday 21 November

Today's news from the web

Tuesday 20 November

Another round of DEFRA cuts?

Over the past few weeks, British Waterways and the IWA have been making encouraging noises about DEFRA's new waterways minister, Jonathan Shaw. After the hapless Barry Gardiner was unceremoniously shuffled off to the back benches, here, they thought, is someone we can work with once again.

Then Saturday's Guardian broke the story of another £300m in cuts to DEFRA's spending, and the truce was over.

WW understands that DEFRA, still reeling from the floods of last summer, is struggling to pay for the outbreaks of bird flu and foot-and-mouth. With no prospect of additional funds from the Treasury, it will be cutting the money it gives to its own agencies - and British Waterways is consistently cited at the top of the list, though thus far this appears to be press speculation rather than any concrete information.

The IWA is once again urging waterway users to write to their MPs, pointing out that BW is already struggling to cope with the flooding and the recent breach on the Mon & Brec (now expected to be closed for up to a year). What is becoming abundantly clear is that the waterways cannot go on like this. Is now the time for BW to extract itself from the dead hand of DEFRA?

Richard Fairhurst  | 9.18am | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Marina Is Full Steam Ahead burnleycitizen.co.uk

    Plans for a £1million pound marina have been stepped up. Bosses of Barden Mill, between Burnley and Brierfield, will discover whether the proposal for the 92-berth marina at the back of the store is approved by councillors at a meeting next month. ...

  • Man Rescued Just Before Boat Sinks malverngazette.co.uk

    A MAN was rescued in the nick of time from his sinking narrowboat on Monday night....

  • Four people arrested in Maurice Batts murder banburyguardian.co.uk

    Police have arrested four people in connection with the murder of Maurice Batts. Mr Batts, 64, was found collapsed on his boat on the canal at Southam Road, Banbury, on September 29 and died on October 9 at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital. ...

  • Runcorn Canal Emergency thisischeshire.co.uk

    Fears that three men had fallen into the Manchester Ship Canal, in Runcorn, sparked a major rescue at the weekend. ...

Monday 19 November

Today's news from the web

Sunday 18 November

Today's news from the web

  • Defra faces £300m budget cut inthenews.co.uk

    The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) could see its budget cut by up to £270 million, according to reports. Bodies such as the Environment Agency and British Waterways are some of the 50 Defra agencies set to have their spending reined in as part of the cost-cutting scheme....

  • Cow rescue watfordobserver.co.uk

    Fire crews used a mixture of brute force and intelligence to rescue two cows from a canal this afternoon (Sunday). ...

Friday 16 November

The People's Millions - who should you vote for?

You might have thought that recent controversies would have sounded the death knell for TV voting, but ITV and the National Lottery don't think so. Together, they're running an enterprise called The People's 50 Millions - where viewers choose which of four projects will receive a £50m lottery grant.

Two of the projects have canal connections: the Black Country Urban Park and Sustrans' Connect2. (The other two are the Eden Project and Sherwood Forest.) So which should you vote for?

The Black Country bid promises "a package of improvements along five canals... making them integral extensions of the open spaces and parks which they pass alongside". In practice, this means three new bridges so local people can get to their canals more easily, and new visitor moorings in Wolverhampton. Meanwhile, the Dudley Tunnel complex will be extended by reopening the Seven Sisters mine and connecting tunnels: there's no suggestion that narrowboaters will be able to take their own craft in, but a new visitor centre will offer skippered boat trips.

The Sustrans scheme is the only national contender of the four. It comprises 79 schemes for new bridges and connections around Britain - and, happily, many of them are on waterways. These include a replacement for Riversdale Swingbridge on the Weaver, removing the first blockage to navigation on the Melton Mowbray Navigation,towpath improvements and access points on the Bridgewater, reopening the towpath of the Shrewsbury & Newport Canal in Shrewsbury itself, access to the Chesterfield Canal towpath, Rochdale towpath improvements, a new bridge over the Regents Canal, a new bridge at Diglis Lock on the Severn, and (you guessed it) a new bridge over the Great Ouse at St Neots... plus a handful more.

Voting starts in ten days' time. If you're a Blackcountryman (or woman), you'll clearly be rooting for the Wolverhampton project: similarly, if you moor near any of the canals in Sustrans' plans (or support any of these restorations), you've probably already decided to give them your vote. What of the rest of us?

The Black Country scheme has the "big bang" appeal, and visitor moorings on the BCN are of course sorely needed. The Sustrans proposals, it's fair to say, will see more benefits to the waterway system as a whole with everywhere from London to the Rochdale Canal set to benefit. But with the Eden Project the undisputed front-runner, both projects need good support from waterway enthusiasts in order to have a chance of success.

It's a difficult decision. Happily, you don't have to choose. The voting guidelines will allow one vote from each phone number, and one from each e-mail address. So if you have a landline and a mobile phone, or home and work e-mail addresses, there's nothing stopping you for voting for both canal-related projects.

Richard Fairhurst  | 2.30pm | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • New urban quarter for London waterscape.com

    Proposals for the transformation of Wood Wharf, one of the most significant developments taking place in London over the next decade, will be unveiled today. ...

  • Falkirk kelpies to be largest in the world list.co.uk

    Two 100-foot horse head sculptures which will operate as a boat lift are to be built in the Central Belt, as part of efforts to transform more than 300 hectares of land. ...

  • Canal project misses out on grant news.bbc.co.uk

    A canal restoration project in the Cotswolds has failed to secure a £19m lottery grant....

Thursday 15 November

Today's news from the web

  • Water taxis plan for city centre lep.co.uk

    Water taxis could be floating through Preston along an extended Lancaster Canal before 2012, it has been claimed. Preston's council has revealed that the plans to create a water-based transport network is vital to cutting congestion in the city. ...

  • Merseyside canal link enters final stage englandsnorthwest.com

    The final phase of a new £20 million canal route in Merseyside is underway. It is Britain's first new water route for 100 years and means that boats will be able to navigate the Leeds-Liverpool canal straight into the Albert Docks. ...

  • City's £200m culture revamp expressandstar.com

    Canalside bars and cafes will breathe new life into Wolverhampton city centre as part of a £200 million transformation, the Express & Star can reveal today. ...

Wednesday 14 November

Falkirk Helix wins the Lottery

Falkirk is to get another out-of-the-ordinary canal link following the long-awaited Living Landmarks lottery award.

The Falkirk Helix project is one of three to share in a £70m jackpot. The scheme will see a new link built from the Forth & Clyde to the tidal Forth estuary - long seen as the biggest obstacle to encouraging more sea-going boats onto the Forth & Clyde Canal. An unusual 'Kelpie' sculpture, pictured, is part of the design.

The news, though, is bad luck for the Cotswold Canals. The restorers were hoping for a share of the lottery winnings to reconnect the canal at Stonehouse, currently under restoration, to the main system at Saul Junction. But although the scheme got through to the final shortlist, it was not one of the three winners. (The other two winners are regeneration schemes in Cornwall and Belfast.)

There is now just one Living Landmarks award to go - the top £50m prize, which will be decided by popular vote. Two canal-related projects are in with a chance: the Black Country Urban Park, which will reopen part of the Dudley Tunnel system, and Sustrans' Connect2, which will build new bridges over dozens of waterways. They are pitted against the Eden Project and Sherwood Forest.

We'll have a full report on the Falkirk scheme in January's WW.

Richard Fairhurst  | 11.00am | add a comment

Today's news from the web

  • Boat Owner Admits Canal Threats thisiswiltshire.co.uk

    A DISPUTE between two canal boat owners in Trowbridge has led to one man facing a community penalty for using threatening behaviour. ...

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