THERE is excitement at the start of a multi-million restoration project for the Montgomery Canal.
Further stage of restoration
This will bring social, economic and ecological benefits to mid-Wales, with the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust welcoming the imminent start of a further stage of the restoration of the Montgomery Canal by the Canal & River Trust under the Government’s Levelling-Up Fund.
The first work will involve dredging south from Llanymynech, essential to ensure the supply of water for boats and for wildlife. There will be a carefully tailored dredging programme phased over the next two years to overcome the natural succession of species by which invasive species have reduced biodiversity and impacted some of the canal’s rare plants.
Dredging is the first activity in a programme which will see new bridges to remove two obstructions to the canal and three substantial off-line nature reserves which will protect the canal's natural heritage as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation.
Michael Limbrey, Chairman of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust, enthused:
“It is very exciting to see work start on the first major restoration of the canal in Wales for some years. The funding from the UK Government’s Levelling-Up Fund follows visits by ministers invited to the canal by Craig Williams MP and Russell George SM.
“Restoring a canal which is also a Special Area of Conservation is nothing new. Over twenty years ago the Rochdale Canal was restored and recent evidence shows the rare water plants there are thriving now the canal is used and cared for and no longer derelict.
“While that Rochdale Canal restoration was under way we developed a Conservation Management Strategy for the Montgomery Canal. This involved detailed discussions with all interested parties, including of course the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Wildlife trusts and the predecessors of Natural Resources Wales and Natural England. The Strategy integrates nature conservation at the heart of the restoration which is designed to bring environmental, social and economic value of the restoration.
"The new expert-designed Welsh nature reserves will benefit from the experience of earlier reserves with a flow of water from canal and extensive open waterspace. They will match the canalside reserves in Shropshire where special canal species are conserved with help from Shropshire Wildlife Trust. Overall, the investment in these reserves alone runs into millions of pounds.
“The Strategy with its vision of a canal open to boats, safeguarding its natural and built heritage, and real social and economic benefits for local communities, was launched to general acclaim at the Senedd and the House of Commons. Since then substantial public grants and private donations have been committed to restoration projects and volunteers from across the country have provided thousands of hours of work to bring about that vision.
“Experience of other canal restorations shows the benefits of a reopened canal. It is over thirty years since Queen Elizabeth opened the Kennet & Avon Canal and nearly sixty years since her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, opened the Stratford Canal: today both are popular amenities for their area. The great thing about boating visitors is that they cannot just drive off to other attractions but spend their time along the canal to the advantage of local shops, pubs and other businesses.
“The Montgomery Canal in Shropshire already welcomes boating visitors from Britain and from countries round the world, and we know more want to come. The canal too welcomes many other visitors from the local area and further afield, some using the Welsh border towpath route from Llangollen to Newtown. Walkers of course will benefit from new bridges being constructed with the current funding and will welcome being able to cross safely under the busy A483 when those crossings are reinstated. Anyone visiting the canal will be able to visit its nature reserves—the new ones and those that are flourishing now—and interpretation and viewing facilities like those in Shropshire will ensure they get the most benefit from their visit.
“Restoring the Montgomery Canal really is a project for everyone. The revived canal will bring recreation and well-being for local communities and their visitors and will protect and enhance the canal’s valuable built and natural heritage.”
The Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust urges people to participate in a short survey about the canal for Powys County Council to show support for the vision of a restored canal bringing environmental, social and economic benefits for all. The surveys take a few minutes to complete online and can be found at: