As water levels begin to recede, we're preparing to get the nation’s canal network repaired and fully open. Hundreds of trees have already been cleared and engineers are beginning to assess the cost of damage to towpaths, bridges and embankments, particularly in parts of the South and South West. Across large parts of the country the remarkable resilience of the two centuries old canal system has again been proven and it remains open for people to use.
Nevertheless, costs are mounting in the areas most affected. South Wales is seeing the most significant impacts of the extreme weather with the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal alone facing rising costs of £1million and at least nine weeks of repairs at Llanfoist.
The sustained wet weather has caused a section of the 200-year old embankment, which carries the canal along the hill side from the Brecon Beacons down to the more populated areas of South Wales around Pontypool and Cwmbran, to become so saturated that it has ‘slipped’ down the side of the hill. Engineers have been working to stabilise the embankment and from today (Monday 24 February) will begin effectively ‘nailing’ it back to the bedrock using up to 500 massive pins.
So far the waterways community has rallied-around with donations to the charity’s National Flood Appeal and offers of volunteer support to help with the clean-up operation. Anyone wishing to donate to the appeal, or volunteer their time to help with the clean-up, can visit canalrivertrust.org.uk.
Vince Moran, Canal & River Trust’s operations director, comments: “I’d like to thank those who have shown support during this difficult time, not least those who have donated so generously and our staff who have been out around-the-clock keeping sluices clear and minimising damage when water flows were at their peak.
“Weather permitting we’re planning to get the affected parts of the system back to normal as soon as possible. However there is going to be a considerable cost involved. Repairing a small section of Wales’ Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal alone will cost approximately £1million.
“The vast majority of canals across the country are still open and being used, but we still need help. I’d encourage people to show their support for the nation’s canals and rivers, either through donating to our appeal, volunteering to help with the clean-up, or by booking a boating holiday to experience the wonder of the waterways this year.”