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The BBC's Ashley Blake
"A national grid for carrying water"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Boost for forgotten canals
John Prescott on a barge
John Prescott joined barge owner Tony Moss to launch the initiative
The Government has unveiled plans to promote the use of inland waterways in England and Wales in a bid to regenerate urban areas.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, launched the initiative to revitalise the UK's 5,000 kilometres of inland waterways, at a ceremony at the Willowtree Marina in west London.

In his report, "Waterways for Tomorrow," Mr Prescott said the initiative would make a significant contribution to tackling deprivation and economic and social renewal.


Our inland waterways are one of our most important national assets

John Prescott
Among the projects to be launched under the scheme is the imminent expansion of "Fibreway", a fibre-optic data network and the "Water Grid", which would use canals to move water from one part of the country to another.

Mr Prescott said: "Our inland waterways are one of our most important national assets.

"We value them not only for their heritage, but because they improve the quality of the environment and people's lives," He added.

Mr Prescott also said there would be more co-operation between the Environment Agency, British Waterways and regional development agencies, to improve the system.

'National heritage'

British Waterways plans to return activities such as boating, walking and angling along hundreds of miles of canals through a charitable trust which hopes to tap into lottery funds.

While around a thousand miles of British canals are navigable, a further thousand miles have either been neglected or filled in.

"New waterside development should respect, conserve and enhance the waterways and their built and natural heritage," Mr Prescott said.

"The government supports action plans to conserve and enhance biodiversity and encourages navigation authorities to provide and promote electric boats where practical and economic," he added.

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See also:

13 Sep 99 | Scotland
Prescott makes canal splash
21 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
Canals making a comeback
18 Feb 99 | UK
Cash help for UK canals
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