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Tuesday 12 July

Today's news from the web

  • Tycoons fight over Games yacht spot dailystar.co.uk

    Billionaires are battling over the top yacht parking spots at next summer’s Olympics. And British Waterways is hoping to cash in on the race for the prime spaces by launching a glossy promotional brochure. Berths are expected to bring in mooring fees running into several thousands per week, making them the most expensive on the planet....

  • Warning sign on Blackburn canal is itself ‘dangerous’ thisislancashire.co.uk

    A ‘dangerous’ warning sign on a canal towpath could lead to a fatal accident, according to a pub landlord. David Wilson, who runs an eatery in Eanam Wharf, Blackburn, claims that walkers and cyclists are having to swerve to miss a ‘hazardous’ sign on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal path....

  • Parliament report - The proposed waterways charity boatingbusiness.com

    The event went well, until the speaker took the spotlight. This was Labour’s Gavin Shuker, the new shadow minister for waterways. He set the tone by starting with the admission he hadn’t met many have yachts and have nots before. My, how we all laughed at that one… He then he went into a routine that seemed more a party political broadcast than the gentle nudging and dropping of hints around which these things usually revolve....

  • Narrowboat dining cruises along Potteries canals thisisstaffordshire.co.uk

    Narrowboat dining cruises will soon be available on the Trent and Mersey canal. Family business Flower Cruises will launch its first trips on Friday, carrying people from Westport Lake to Etruria Industrial Museum on converted narrowboat Buddleia Davidii. Alternatively, people can take a shorter, hour-long journey to the Harecastle Tunnel, near Kidsgrove. Michael Vaughan, his wife Kerry and his sister Susan have together invested £30,000 to launch the business. ... They plan to have families cruising in the day, and will sell sandwiches, cakes and drinks. Adult tickets would cost £6. At night, the boat will offer two experiences. The first would be a tea-time early bird special. Then, at 8pm, diners would board for a four-course meal while enjoying Stoke-on-Trent from the waterways. ...

  • Derby to Sandiacre Canal restoration plan approved bbc.co.uk

    Part of a £45m plan to restore a Derbyshire canal has been approved. Campaigners have wanted to reopen a 12.5 mile (20km) stretch of the Derby to Sandiacre Canal for more than 10 years, saying it will boost the area. Derby City Council has now given outline planning permission for work on a seven-mile (11.3km) section from Swarkestone to Borrowash....

  • All aboard for a voyage through history yorkshirepost.co.uk

    A Knottingly boatyard is keeping alive an ancient tradition. FOR more than 50 years, the canals, rivers and coastal waters of the UK were the stamping grounds of a distinctive fleet of boats. Although their appearance differed little from other barges, tankers and trawlers plying their trade, what set them apart was their names: Borrowdale H, Constance H, Wheldale H and dozens more – the characteristic suffix indicating they were part of the John Harker fleet, constructed at the company’s yard in Knottingley....

Thursday 7 July

EU issues warning about red diesel

The EU Commission has warned that it might try to stop UK boaters from using red diesel, even where tax is fully paid.  

The threat is reported by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), which was pursuing the issue of UK boaters being fined by the Belgian authorities for arriving with red diesel in their tanks, even though full duty on the diesel had been paid. 

In a letter to the Association, the EU Commission says it has decided to open ‘infringement proceedings’ against the UK for permitting red diesel to be used at all in pleasure craft propulsion, even where the recommended ‘60%-40%’ duty apportionment is paid.  

The Commission stated that the “marking of fuel used for propelling pleasure boats where such fuel has not borne any exemption or rebate” undermines the Europe-wide system of fiscal marking, as set out in Directive 95/60/EC.  

However, the RYA’s head of government affairs, Gus Lewis, said that they had taken specialist taxation advice and believed that the use of red diesel in private boats should not infringe the EU Marking Directive and that boatyards and traders could continue to supply it. 

“We believe that the UK position is obeying the letter of the law”, he said, and promised a vigorous challenge to any attempt to ban red diesel use for propulsion.   

He added that they were confident that the current system, where UK boaters can declare the amount of red diesel they are using for propulsion, would continue.

Andrew Denny  | 2.39pm

Today's news from the web

  • Melingriffith water pump restored after campaign bbc.co.uk

    Campaigners who helped restore a historic water pump have put it back in to action for the first time since the 1940s. The 200-year-old Melingriffith water pump in Whitchurch, Cardiff, one of the last remaining relics of the Glamorganshire canal - the link between Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff's docks in the 19th Century. It is one of the earliest works of its kind and was used to service the former Glamorganshire Canal and Melingriffith tin plate works....

  • Clean-up removes suffocating Floating Pennywort from River Lee tottenhamjournal.co.uk

    Floating pennywort was pulled from the River Lee on Sunday (July 3) in a bid to stop the non-native invasive weed choking the water. The weed spreads rapidly feeding on nutrients in the polluted river and the clean-up was spearheaded by water charity Thames21. The charity last week revealed the river is more polluted than parts of the River Ganges in India....

  • Green light for canalside homes at Marsworth bucksherald.co.uk

    Plans to build 13 new homes on the British Waterways site in Marsworth were approved during a meeting of Aylesbury Vale District Council’s development control committee on Thursday. It is the second time the plans have been looked at and the council believes its original concerns have been addressed. The height of one of the proposed structures has been reduced to the recommended level to reduce the visual impact and refuge areas for pedestrians will be introduced in nearby Watery Lane....

Wednesday 6 July

Waterways Trust Scotland encourages 'canal custodians'

Concerned at the relative lack of awareness of the Caledonian Canal by people who live near it, the Waterways Trust Scotland has recruited a dedicated canal officer, Stephen Wiseman, to increase involvement and knowledge of the waterway. 

Stephen Wiseman's first task will be to recruit and train local people to be 'Canal Custodians', encouraging them to create practical conservation projects, including helping other local people to research and record the history of the canal.  

He says he wants to get many more local people to explore, use and care for the 60-mile waterway, which stretches from Inverness to Fort William. 

Over the next two years Stephen Wiseman will be running a series of projects and activities to help people in the area discover more of the canal’s heritage, scenery and wildlife.
He says: “The Caledonian Canal is relatively unknown locally. While visitors come from far and wide to cruise along the waterway, there are few opportunities for people living in its vicinity to experience the canal.”
"The canal created the fortunes of the region, and while we now have different ways of getting around, it can still play an important role in the way we live today,” he says. 

Stephen Wiseman, Caledonian Canal Officer, appointed by The Waterways Trust Scotland  

Andrew Denny  | 4.25pm

Stroud canal at Wallbridge finally in water

The channel underneath the largest current project of the Cotswold Canals, in the centre of Stroud, has finally become navigable - for the first time in many decades. 

The Stroud Brewery Bridge, which carries the A446 over the canal in the centre of the town, is close to completion, and on Monday 4th June the feeder pipe which carried Slad Brook through the construction works was removed.  

[Photo: courtesy Clive Field, CCT]

It's only a short stretch, a limited pound between the upper and lower Wallbridge locks, but it's been the biggest barrier to opening up the canal in the whole six miles of this first stage of the restoration. 

At this point we would be saying something nice about the construction company doing the work, Carillion, but their PR people haven't returned our phone call.  We were hoping they would explain why the project is several months behind schedule, although there are good reasons for the delay.  

By next year, if there are no more delays, this could well be the upper limit of navigation for the National Trailboat Festival 2012, to be called Stroud On Water.

Andrew Denny  | 12.29pm

Today's news from the web

  • Boats, beer, music and cheer at first ever Alrewas canal festival burtonmail.co.uk

    Details have been released about the first ever Alrewas canal and music festival. More than 20 musical acts from across Staffordshire, a choice of real ale, historic boats, canoes, angling and ukulele lessons will be on offer during the weekend of July 22 to 24. To mark Alrewas Village Hall’s centenary year, a group of individuals and village organisations decided to launch the first Alrewas canal and music festival to raise money for the village hall building fund and to raise awareness of the canal heritage in the village....

Tuesday 5 July

Today's news from the web

  • Lucy Cavendish takes her family for a swim in the Thames telegraph.co.uk

    We are swimming in the River Thames, [me,] three of my children...and my husband, when a man swims towards me pointing madly behind me. I am in the middle of the river accompanied by eight-year-old Leonard and no one else as far as I am aware....

Monday 4 July

Droitwich Canals open for business!

The first through traffic on the new Droitwich Canals took place quietly on Sunday 26th June, when the working boat motor Atlas and butty Malus travelled from Hawford Junction on the Severn, through to Hanbury Top Lock, testing the new Droitwich Junction Canal for the first time.  

Following close behind was IWA Chairman Clive Henderson in his boat Nanshe.  He declared himself “deeply honoured” to be on the first leisure boat to make the full passage.  

It was a tight fit in places, with little more than an inch of headroom to spare in the culverted tunnel under the M5 motorway, and some grounding in the mud for the deep-draughted Atlas on the way up, something that will be addressed by dredging teams later. Nevertheless, the working pair made the trip to Hanbury easily, and the canals were declared officially navigable for the first time in nearly a century.    

Town and boaters celebrates their new resource at happy opening ceremony

The official opening ceremony was on Friday 1st July, in a day of perfect weather.  It seemed as if everyone in Droitwich had finally become a canal enthusiast, turning out to enjoy the sight of a functioning waterway for the first time in over a century, and forgetting the conflict that has dogged the restoration over the years.

By the time the VIP guests had arrived we counted 70 boats clustered in and around the town’s Netherwich Basin and Vines Park. The atmosphere was every bit the traditional canal festival, with bunting from most boats and the feeling that the boats had never been away.  

Defra minister Caroline Spelman officially unveiled the plaque that will be embedded in the park to record the day. She duly paid tribute to everyone involved in the 50-year restoration, perhaps stressing the concern for environmental impact more than the effect on navigation and business in the town: 

“Reconnecting and reopening the two canals is a great engineering achievement. I’m delighted by the environmental sensitivity of the work. The new Coney Meadow reedbed is a marvellous example of ecological offsetting.”

“The Droitwich Canals Restoration Partnership shows what can be achieved when local communities and national bodies come together and share responsibility for the waterways, generating support and volunteer efforts, with funds from varied sources”, she added. “Localism and partnership of this sort show that the future of the waterways in the charitable sector will be bright.”

The heavy work of the restoration is comparatively recent, since lottery money, charity fundraising and a final vote of the board of British Waterways brought £12million to the project. 

But its genesis was over 50 years ago, when local waterways enthusiast Max Sinclair and his wife Jocelyn began writing letters to local newspapers proposing the restoration, and organising teams of local people in clearance and digging, often against the abuse of other local people who saw no use for a waterway.   

“I suppose it was an impossible dream”, he said at the opening.  “At times I never thought I’d see this.”   

If Max Sinclair himself was the highest profile volunteer – gaining a round of applause when BW Chairman Tony Hales mentioned his name – he himself singled out Jason Leach of British Waterways, the restoration manager, as the one who drove the restoration to its triumphant reopening on 1st July.  

“Jason has been wonderful”, said Max.  “He’s brought all the partners together, and fought his corner to keep it going whenever there was disagreement.  It couldn’t have happened so quickly without him.” 

Looking at the new visitor moorings in the town canal basin, Max Sinclair remembers: "The first half-mile of the canal out of town was the local sewage works. The reeds were supposed, 'Dutch style', to purify the water. Unfortunately poisonous chemicals from the town's industry meant it didn't work. 

“When some boaters arrived and said 'What a lovely canal!' my pride was tinged with the sadness that this could have happened many years earlier if we had received more support in the early years.”

"It's especially rewarding to see all the diverse efforts of groups and individuals coming to fruition after decades of planning and spadework," said Jason. "This £12m project to restore the canals is an economic generator, a green waterway corridor for communities and a magnet for visiting boaters. I want to place on record our gratitude to the dedication of the collective partnerships and individual volunteers." 

On the Saturday – as the town’s annual music festival got underway, now newly renamed the Droitwich Waterways and Music Festival - another plaque was unveiled in Vines Park, to the ‘unknown volunteers’.   This plaque honoured thousands of ordinary volunteers who have laboured over the years in scrub bashing and amateur digging to keep the canal alive, before the professional hard hats and hi-viz jackets took over. 

Andrew Denny  | 10.36am

Today's news from the web

  • Controversy over 'Sainsbury's or marina' choice at Tordmorden todmordennews.co.uk

    More members of the public took the chance to look at designs for a marina in Todmorden last weekend. Members of Todmorden Pride’s board, including architect Ivor Dibble who drew up the proposals, were on hand to give more detail about them. They will only have the chance to go-ahead should plans submitted by Sainsbury’s supermarket for the key Halifax Road site be refused. There is a developer interest in a marina, say Todmorden Pride....

  • Repairs to historic railway aqueduct [sic] bakewelltoday.co.uk

    A towpath along a historic aqueduct will close while Derbyshire County Council carries out essential repairs. Work on the aqueduct which carries the Cromford Canal over the Derby to Matlock railway line will start on July 11 and will finish in November. The existing towpath will be removed and replaced with a new steel path and the route over the railway will be closed during this time....

  • Water festival marks end of £12m canals project worcesternews.co.uk

    People flooded into Droitwich this weekend for the town’s first water festival. The Droitwich Water Festival celebrated the completion of the £12m project to restore the canals to their former glory. As we reported on Saturday, the three-day festival was launched with an opening ceremony on Friday during which a plaque was unveiled by Defra minister Caroline Spelman....

Thursday 30 June

Daventry canal arm project becomes high-profile

After the sudden formation earlier this year of the Daventry Canal Association to push forward a long-proposed canal arm into the town centre - complete with six locks and a large waterspace-centred development - you'd probably assume its energy would evaporate quickly. Most such efforts do. 

Surprisingly, no it hasn't; not in this case. Planning applications are already in the works, including an application for detailed planning permission of the canal arm from the junction with the Grand Union Canal through to the edge of the town, and outline permission for the development that will surround the basin. 
And the initial flurry of press coverage hasn't died down. Last weekend the Association held fort at the Braunston traditional boat show (picture shows the man on the stand pointing out the entrance to the proposed canal basin), and yesterday the Daventry Canal Arm project featured as a five-minute segment on the Radio 4 PM program:

BBC iPlayer link (direct to the start of the segment): http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b0124nv0/   

The Association really has done very well to get this far, and although it's still nowhere near home and dry, they are very close to getting detailed planning permission for the arm itself, and outline planning permission for the 20-acre development that will justify it all.

Residential, commercial, leisure - a good balance of city-centre waterside development that should breath new life into the town centre. We wish it well. 

For news, follow the blog on www.daventrycanal.org.uk/news-blog.html

Andrew Denny  | 9.37am

Wednesday 29 June

Today's news from the web

  • Hereford & Glos canal restoration plans for abandoned railway bbc.co.uk

    Plans have been unveiled to turn the route of an old railway line at Newent back into a canal. Originally built as a canal, the route was turned into a railway in the 1880s. The railway was then abandoned in 1964. The Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust proposal to restore the waterway would see it running between the platforms of the old station. The plan is part of an ongoing project to restore the entire 34 mile canal between Gloucester and Hereford....

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