IWA is supporting the Cotswold Canals Trust in campaigning for a scheme which would provide desperately needed additional water supplies to London and the South East, and could enable the restoration of the whole 36 miles of the Thames – Severn link. IWA will be submitting responses to this and the other Water Resource Management Plans currently out for consultation, but this is one where additional voices would really make a difference.
The consultation considers a wide range of issues affecting water resources but the biggest impact on canal restoration is how to transfer water from the Severn to the Thames. Both a pipeline and open water transfer via restored canals are being considered.
A key omission in the consultation when comparing the canal vs pipeline, is the presentation of a well considered analysis of the financial value of the restored canal to society and the local economy. This seems to have been largely ignored but, the Cotswold Canals Trust have used the recent IWA Waterways for Today Report, to calculate the additional financial value of restoring the canal. This could run to about £800million over the next 80 years (the basis on which the costs and best value calculations are based). That additional benefit more than offsets the difference in cost between the pipeline and canal options. It also justifies pressing for the full restoration of the canal rather than the minimum necessary to enable the transfer of water alone.