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Saturday, 25 August, 2001, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Waterway re-opens after 30 years
Canal clean-up operation
Obstructions have been removed from the canal
A new stretch of waterway has been opened in a bid to reconnect Glasgow and Edinburgh by a series of canals.

The new stretch of the Union Canal at Wester Hailes in Edinburgh is the latest step in a 78m project to restore the historic waterways between the east and west coasts of Scotland.

The Millennium Link scheme is clearing obstructions from the Clyde, Union and Forth canals to provide a continuous route across the central belt for the fist time in 60 years.

A flotilla of boats passed through the re-opened section on Saturday as local people took part in musical celebrations.

Jackie Baillie
Jackie Baillie: "Further progress"
Communities Minister Jackie Baillie attended the opening ceremony and thanked the people of Wester Hailes for their patience while the new section of canal was under construction.

She said: "Today's event marks further progress towards the opening of the Union Canal after 30 years.

"The community of Wester Hailes has played a key role in the rebirth of Scotland's canals and, importantly, contributed to the potential social and economic wealth of not just Wester Hailes but Scotland as a whole."

Connie Gourlay, chairwoman of Wester Hailes Representative Council, said: "It's been a long haul and thank goodness the canal building works are coming to an end.

'Economic benefits'

"It will be worth it, the opportunities for environmental and economic benefits for Wester Hailes are enormous."

Seven road bridges and three new footbridges were built as part of the Union Canal development at Wester Hailes.

A number of roads, cable, gas and water mains were also re-routed as part of the project.

Materials, which were excavated from the site, were used to upgrade a local park, creating two seven-a-side football pitches.

See also:

18 Aug 00 | Scotland
Canal cleared of mercury
13 Sep 99 | Scotland
Prescott makes canal splash
21 Jul 99 | Sci/Tech
Canals making a comeback
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