Sunday, 14 May 2017

Water water everywhere

If I am feeling slightly frivolous, when I am asked where the water is coming from for the restored Wilts & Berks Canal, I say " out of the sky"!. 
The subject of water supply for the canal is complicated and the simple answer is to reduce potential canal leakage, reuse as much as possible, and provide adequate storage for the balance required- if only!!.
This has all been brought into focus by noting the long and continuing public discussion of how Thames Water intend to keep providing an adequate supply for an ever growing demand in their area.
For years the plan was ( and maybe still is) to build a reservoir near Abingdon. The consequence for the Wilts & Berks Canal if this scheme were to go ahead in its original form  would be a significant restoration of the canal from the reservoir site to the River Thames . For a number of years an alternative scheme of water transfer from the River Severn has seemed to be preferred . The Cotswold Canal team have been lobbying for Thames Water to consider using the restored Thames & Severn Canal as the conduit for the water- Thames Water are still assessing options but still seem to prefer using a pipeline;
This is an illustration of options being considered in 2015:

Thames Water are currently  holding a series of meeting on their plans and a number of the  team attended one of these in Cirencester last Thursday . The next local presentation is in Abingdon on June 15th. Full details of how to register to attend are on the Thames Water web site 

The rain in the last few days will have been welcomed by gardeners and canal water resource managers equally- my wish is that precipitation is limited to the hours of darkness especially when I am boating!

Politics is everywhere at  the moment and with under four weeks to the General Election. WBCT has just issued a statement about the election urging all voters to seek the views of candidates about waterways restoration  

Finally just a reminder that if you would like to be a guest editor of the blog  let me know

Ken Oliver 

Monday, 8 May 2017

False News !

I have mentioned before in this blog that its very frustrating to read in social media some things about canal life that just are not true!. The latest example came from someone who should have known better suggesting that it would be a waste of money to restore the canal in Swindon as boating was only for rich people.
The problem is that these ideas, once rooted, take more than a systemic campaign to remove them! For those of us who do understand that waterway use is mainly about those on the towpath (who sometimes simply come to enjoy the view) there is still much more work to be done to change the perception that canals are all about boats. 
This is what Canal & River Trust show in their Annual Report (15/16)

Who uses the waterways

So the challenge is to better engage with those not actively involved in canal restoration and this was one of the topics extensively discussed at last Thursday's meeting of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Executive. If you have some ideas of how we widen the appeal of the Wilts & Berks project please get in touch.
On a personal note our summer narrowboat cruise is now planned and weekends are already afloat heading east on the Kenner & Avon Canal  and we hope to be enjoying canal life in Birmingham in a few weeks time

Ken Oliver

Monday, 1 May 2017

Back from holidays

So having spent some time in the Mediterranean sun I guess I can only claim maƱana  as an excuse for taking a couple of weeks off from the blog.
Getting back to work is always a challenge but as ever plenty to  do on the canal front now I am back in action.
I was delighted that Wiltshire Widllife Trust were able to help with getting much of the planting done at Studley Grange - the wildlife trail will certainly get a good start when all the all the plants start to mature. Still some work to do as the dry spring has meant that the final planting has to wait for rain!
The canals in London have been alive with boats at the annual IWA Cavalcade at Little Venice - nice to see the Wilts & Berks logo among the moored boats

We have just started our own canal summer cruise and have heading east on the K&A hoping to get to Birmingham this year.
But my mind has wandered again from work!. The Melksham Link team is still working hard on trying to get the planning application progressed- a significant meeting held last week with Environment Agency and we hope we know now what further information is required.
The consultation on the latest stage of the Vale of White Horse DC Local plan closes on May 4th - you might want to support the proposed policy to protect the Wilts & Berks Canal Route 
And finally well done to the Dragonfly boat trip team now back in action in Swindon.

Ken Oliver