Waterways charity, the Canal & River Trust, is planning to carry out a £45.1 million programme of repairs on waterways across England & Wales this winter. The programme includes replacing lock gates, dredging and carrying out other tasks to keep the 200-year old network open and help ensure its resilience to climate change.
Despite a forecasted 10% reduction in income due to the pandemic, the charity has been able to prioritise spending to maintain a full winter works programme of 128 large-scale repairs across 50 canal and river navigations. Carried out by the Trust’s in-house team and specialist contractors, the works will take in the World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, famous lock flights Caen Hill and Bingley Five-Rise, draining a stretch of canal in East London, and city centre locations in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, and Wigan.
“More people have discovered the nation’s waterways this year, exercising on the towpaths during lockdown and taking staycation hire boat holidays, in addition to those who already know and love them,” says Richard Parry, chief executive at the Canal & River Trust. “Set against the challenges of the pandemic, and with research showing being by the water improves wellbeing, it has never been more important to keep the waterways open and available. The network has a vital role in helping to safeguard the physical and mental health of the nation – particularly in urban areas where access to green and blue space is often at such a premium.”
This winter the Trust will be hosting a series of online open days. With the limitations around people meeting face-to-face, these online events will showcase the work that goes on during the winter to keep the canal network open and available for people to use and enjoy. The events will be promoted on the Trust’s website and across its social media channels.
Parry continues: “The work the Trust carries out every winter is essential to ensure our canals and rivers can continue to provide a valuable resource to the public. The task of looking after them remains a challenge: one we are committed to as we aim to keep them in good working order for the generations to come.”