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News article created on 14 February 2014

200 year old canal network feels the strain - National Flood Appeal launched

We're appealing to friends and supporters for help in coping with the continuing extreme weather that is causing major challenges right across its 2,000 miles of waterways.

From Wales to Oxford, the canal and river network, which has been channelling water away from homes, farmland and businesses, is now deluged itself. 100s of trees have fallen across the network in the last 24 hours alone, sluices are constantly being cleared of debris, 200 year old humpback canal bridges damaged and there is extensive damage to large sections of embankment, towpath and canal-banks.

  • In Oxfordshire, 200 year old canal bridges on the Oxford Canal have been damaged and the towpath surfaces have washed away
  • In Somerset, the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal has been playing a significant role in efforts to relieve the flooded Somerset plains, but is now itself in flood and sections of towpath have been damaged
  • In Gloucestershire, the tidal Severn has scoured the embankment of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, the last line of defence for a large swathe of land
  • In Wiltshire and across the home counties, major floods on the Kennet & Avon and Grand Union Canals are causing hundreds of thousands of pounds of repair works
  • The River Severn has been in flood for some time and at record levels; many structures are submerged and damage is likely to be significant
  • And in Wales, the heavy rain has caused serious damage to two much-loved canals. Engineers are on site now assessing the impact to the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal and the Llangollen Canal where embankments have slipped and are being urgently stabilised

Vince Moran, Canal & River Trust operations director, comments: “I am hugely grateful to our staff, contractors and volunteers who have been braving the elements and working around the clock, clearing fallen trees and debris, keeping water moving away from the worst affected areas and making repairs wherever possible. Our resources are stretched and the situation continues to deteriorate day by day.

“The full extent of the damage cannot yet be assessed. However, when waters recede we expect to see major damage to towpaths, locks and other canal heritage structures and features, which will affect millions of people and cost £millions to repair.

“We are appealing for your help now to enable us to respond to this unprecedented crisis. Your support will help us fund the immediate and longer-term repairs that will be necessary to bring our towpaths and waterways back into use as quickly as possible. Every penny you give will be spent directly and entirely on repairing and protecting flood affected waterways.”

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