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Tuesday 21 May

Obituary: Cliff Penny

Waterways visionary and driving force behind the restoration of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal.

I well remember, more than 50 years ago, watching a farmer ploughing out the old profile of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal as I trudged through the countryside on a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition.

Some 30 years later I was to meet the man who, with equal audacity and vision, was hell-bent on reversing this sacrilege. This was Cliff Penny, whose skills and tenacity in the field of waterway restoration were already recognised.

Cliff was someone whose vision was underpinned by a whole raft of skills which translated particularly well into canal restoration. As a chartered civil engineer and chartered town planner he held senior positions in the water industry, before going on to found Penny Consulting with his son David.

It is hard to think of Cliff in isolation, as in reality he was part of an extremely effective team that included his wife Joan and David. Not only did they boat widely together, but as a consultancy they brought a variety of skills to bear in promoting and protecting the canal in many different ways.

He was a master of planning gain, winning assets for the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust that will go on generating income. At the Hereford Bypass enquiry, he established the need for a new bridge crossing the canal… 32 miles away from the nearest navigable section. He was to repeat this success when the nearby Roman Road fell due for an upgrade.

Penny Consulting became a UK leader for planning and environmental law in the water industry, as well as winning major enquiries at Manchester Airport and Cardiff International Rail Freight Terminal. On the strength of this, Cliff was asked to set up the planning system for the United Arab Emirates, but he declined as he regarded it as being ‘too hot’.

As the last chair of the former Canal Society and the first chairman of HGCT, together with serving on the council of management, Cliff gave almost 30 years of dedicated service during which he was also long-standing editor of The Wharfinger.

He always held the hard work of the trust volunteers in high esteem and never overlooked thanking anyone for their contribution to ‘the cause’. It was in this area that I felt his overriding sincerity was most apparent.

Jonathan Mosse 

 

 
Cliff Penny

 
Cliff Penny completed his steam engine driver's course in 2013, aged 60. His love of waterways and trains will combine in taking the H&G through Newent railway station.

Andrew Denny  | 2.43pm | add a comment


Government to fund Cotswold 'missing mile'

Cotswold canals campaigners, in their attempt to finish the Stroudwater restoration and link it to the main network, have received a stunning measure of support from the road builders.

Traditionally roadbuilding projects have destroyed or at least threatened canal restoration projects. But now Highways England has offered £4m to the Cotswold Canals Trust to help bridge the 'missing mile' that is probably the most difficult part of the restoration.

The money comes from the Designated Funds Programme of Highways England. Created in 2015, this goes beyond traditional roadbuilding and is designed to minimise the disadvantages and leave a positive legacy for future generations.

The Missing Mile is the section of the Stroudwater cut off by the roadbuilding depredations of the 1960s and '70s. These included the M5 motorway and a large roundabout on the A38, which would require two tunnels and a cutting.

It's only part of the 4-mile Cotswold Canals Connected project – previously known as Phase 1B. The Cotswold Canals Trust and its partners won £872,000 of development funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund last year to pay for planning the CCC project.

The overall cost is estimated to be £23.4m, but success in this HLF application is partly dependent on raising an additional funding gap of over £1m.

Highways England's interjection could change the game on the whole project, because it would bring forward several of the major engineering tasks all at once, things like tunnelling that cannot be done by volunteers, and that would substantially speed up the work.

Part of the reason for the government money is that it's not only being done for boats. They see a need to increase biodiversity, creating more than 90 acres of wildlife habitats and improved flood prevention measures. In addition, it will make good walking and cycling routes, create environmental improvements, attract visitors to the area and help the local economy.

Nevertheless, along with the M5 and A38 crossings, boaters would benefit from two new locks, two boat mooring basins and a mile of new canal on a new route.

The Cotswold Canals Trust estimates that CCC will draw approximately 700,000 hours of volunteer work and support new apprenticeships through contractors.

Highways England says the project aligns very closely with its own cultural heritage aims. The restored canal “will increase awareness of and access to a historical asset, provide a leisure amenity benefiting education and well-being and meet Highways England’s stewardship of the heritage assets obligations”.

Meanwhile Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has developed the Environmental & Biodiversity Plan with the Environment Agency. The priority habitats created will form one of the UK’s largest biodiversity offsetting projects.

For more information on Designated Funds see highwaysengland.co.uk/designated-funds/.

The crossing of the A38, the key component of the Cotswold Canals 'missing mile' project, being funded by Highways England.

 

 
CCT chair Jim White, Sarah Lewis of Highways England and Shelley Anderson of CCT sign the agreement for the £4m.jpg 

Andrew Denny  | 2.39pm | add a comment


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Friday 17 May

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Monday 13 May

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  • Derbyshire Wildlife Trust launches Cromford canal cottage crowdfunder belpernews.co.uk

    Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support its restoration of a historic cottage on the Cromford canal. The environmental charity is aiming to revive the ruined 19th century Aqueduct Cottage, at Lea Wood Nature Reserve, as a space for visitor information and education. Plans were submitted to Amber Valley Council in March, and now the trust has begun the long work to raise funding for the project....


Thursday 9 May

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Wednesday 24 April

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Tuesday 23 April

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Saturday 13 April

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Friday 12 April

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Wednesday 10 April

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Friday 5 April

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