Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Ashby Canal Association (BW 65)


  1.1  The Ashby Canal Association is a charitable body which campaigns for the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and development of the Ashby Canal.

  1.2  The Ashby Canal is an historic waterway and a valuable amenity designated as a linear park and conservation area. It provides for leisure boating, walking, angling and cycling as well as nature conservancy benefits to the area.


  2.1  As a direct result of the Defra cuts to British Waterways budget in 2006 £1 million pounds was axed from the phase 2 repair works to Shenton embankmant, on the Ashby Canal, in this financial year and £1.5 million from phase 3 repairs in 2007-2008 financial year.

  Instead of a major repair and stabilisation of the embankment only effective patch up of the worst areas is now possible. The embankment overlooks the site of the Battle of Bosworth 1485, which attracts many thousands of visitors a year.

  2.2  The implications of not carrying out the major repair works are that we are living with the risk of a failing embankment. The consequences of which at Shenton would be highly significant due to the sheer volume of water on what is effectively a stretch of water in excess of 60km in length. The effect in the local area would be massive and not only have the potential to flood local properties, put locals lives at risk but also to cause significant damage to the historic battlefield site.


  3.1  The network of Inland Waterways in the UK is unique. No other country in the world has such an extensive canal system, the majority of which is over 200 years old, it is our heritage and as such should be saved and passed on for future generations to enjoy and learn from. It attracts many thousand visitors each year from across the globe and provides employment in construction and tourism. In the 1950's it was a scene of dereliction and decay, lack of investment and changes in transport systems had all but killed it off. The resurgence in the 1990's has revitalised the network with more boats, walkers, visitors and development than ever before. City centres are being reborn around the canals, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Nottingham to name a few.

  We must not let this investment be wasted but maintain the work that has been started and continue the funding to British Waterways to facilitate the improvements and maintenance that this historic network so richly deserves.

The Ashby Canal Association

March 2007

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