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Last Updated:  Saturday, 5 April, 2003, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Canal link a step nearer
The canal at Welshpool
Welshpool could be joined to the national network in five years
Plans of a canal linking mid Wales with the rest of the British waterway system have taken another step forward.

A two-and-a-half mile stretch of the 35-mile-long Montgomery Canal was officially opened by TV presenter John Craven on Friday.

Mr Craven, who is vice president of the Waterways Trust, opened the section between Queen's Head and Maesbury

This means that only the six-mile-stretch between Maesbury and Arddleen needs to be completed to link up the canal with mid Wales.

More than half the canal is now fully restored but a large part of the system in Wales is landlocked
Steve O'Sullivan, waterways supervisor

But this scheme, which will allow boats to navigate through Welshpool towards Newtown, will cost 35m.

If funding bids are successful, British Waterways, which governs the UK canal network, believes the 16-mile-stretch of canal in mid Wales could be joined to the national network within five years.

Economic boost

Steve O'Sullivan is the waterways supervisor for the area.

"More than half the canal is now fully restored but a large part of the system in Wales is landlocked," he said.

"But we are confident that we can complete the project to develop a waterway for Wales."

Mr O'Sullivan believes opening the Welsh waterway has the potential to create 100 jobs and boost the economy of areas surrounding the canal by 2m a year.

With the help of 140,000 lottery money, a conservation management strategy for the next stage of the project is now being prepared.

John Craven
John Craven is vice president of the waterways trust

The newly opened section includes the three Aston locks restored by the Waterways Recovery Group with funds from the Inland Waterways Association.

One of the volunteers involved in the scheme is Mike Palmer of the Waterways Recovery Group.

"Thousands of volunteers have worked on this part of the project which has taken years to complete," said Mr Palmer.

"The stretch of canal we have just completed also includes a nature reserve running alongside the canal."

The Montgomery Canal was built in 1821 and was used to carry limestone, wood and leather goods before being abandoned in 1944.

Volunteers have been restoring the waterway for the last 33 years and after 20m worth of work, nearly half the canal has been restored for barges to use.

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27 Jun 00  |  UK News

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