Spending on canal dredging to double.

Canal boaters will be pleased to hear that spending on canal dredging will be doubled over the next ten years, and that local shallow spots, such as below locks and downstream from bridges, may get special targetting. The width of the dredged section may also be increased.

Dredging on the Oxford Canal

In a speech to the AGM of the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators on 23rd November Canal & River Trust trustee John Dodwell explained that a ten year dredging programme was being planned, effectively doubling the current annual £5 m spend on programmed dredging. He went on to explain that two key elements will be looked at by the Navigation Advisory Group. One will be to increase the ratio of spot dredging to main-line dredging. The second will be to change the “failing threshold” measure. At present if 70% of the channel cross section in each km meets the depth criteria, then it is deemed Ok. On this basis, only about 7% of the total mileage fails. It’s proposed to raise this so that 90% of the cross section in future must comply – it is estimated that this will double the failing lengths, but this is actually more in tune with what users say.

The Inland Waterways Association had previously criticised British Waterways for the lack of dredging. As far back as July 2010, in answer to a series of detailed parliamentary questions placed on behalf of IWA, the Waterways Minister Richard Benyon MP had explained that British Waterways had plans to only dredge between 30 kilometres (km) and 40 km of its waterways during 2010-11, at an estimated cost of £4.5 million. He went on to explain that British Waterways estimated that 291 kilometres of its canals and rivers required dredging. IWA subsequently gave evidence on this gap to the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways inquiry into the formation of CRT.

Speaking of the announcement of the increased funding, Les Etheridge, IWA national chairman said: “IWA has been steadfast in seeking to demonstrate the need for increased funding for navigation on the canal and river network .It has been clear anecdotally for many boaters that there has not been enough depth of water for navigation, and we have sought to highlight this with hard evidence. We are delighted that this campaign has resulted in a commitment for additional spend on this important area”.

Thanks to IWA Mid November News Bulletin for text, images Canal Junction

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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