Waterways battered from Storm Babet

Published: Wednesday, 25 October 2023

THE waterways have really suffered from Storm Babet.

Hundreds of trees have been blown down and the canal network has suffered structural damage including towpaths washed away and a landslide on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

Babet1Considerable damage

Plus considerable damage on the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal where the Soar flooded into the canal, causing over 50 metres of bank to collapse, as shown.

The trust’s staff and volunteers attended numerous call-outs as they battled to control water levels and respond to damage, whilst, on the Erewash Canal in Sandiacre, the quick response by one of the trust’s volunteers averted disaster when he was able to rescue a member of the public who fell into the canal, one of many people who were still using the towpath, despite it being submerged under storm water.

Thanks for battling

Richard Parry, Chief Executive of the Canal & River Trust, comments:

“I’d like to thank colleagues and volunteers at the trust for battling across the weekend to control water levels, responding to the emergencies caused by Storm Babet, and for all their efforts to keep everyone safe.

“Our canal network is a national treasure dating back 250 years. It isn’t safely locked away as an exhibit in a museum. It is here to be navigated by boats as they did centuries ago, used freely by millions of people, and for the benefit of wildlife. We’re going to see Storm Babet leave the canal network with a bill likely to be in the £millions.

"This illustrates the increasing expense of keeping the canal network safe and open, at a time when funding from government is reducing in real terms, and ahead of the steep future cuts it announced earlier this year.

These extra costs are becoming increasingly common place as the changing climate takes its toll. Without adequate funding, they will lead to the gradual deterioration and eventual closure of some canals."

He adds that the work of staff and volunteers, together with the support of our partners and friends, is vital if we are to keep our canals alive to benefit this and future generations.