George Rogers, Development Manager with Chesterfield Canal Trust and WRG director, reports on the Joint IWA / Canal & River Trust Restoration Conference, held in Chesterfield in March 2023.
The annual Restoration Conference, jointly organised and funded by Canal & River Trust and IWA, this year took place at the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield – just a short walk from the terminus of the Chesterfield Canal. Approximately 100 delegates from lots of different waterway restoration groups, CRT and IWA attended to hear from three keynote speakers along with a choice of breakout sessions, networking and the opportunity for guided and self-guided walks along the canal.
Julie Sharman, Chief Operating Officer for CRT, opened the day with a reminder of why this year’s theme, Creating a Sustainable Waterway, is so important. Sustainability is often misinterpreted as meaning only environmental sustainability – but restoration also needs to consider social and economic sustainability. The latter is particularly relevant to CRT at the moment, with the recent announcement of reduced central government funding. To anybody restoring and using the canal network, the positive impact they have is undeniable and obvious – but it is an unfortunate reality that this isn’t always the case for those holding the purse strings.
However a partially or fully restored canal is looked after (and whoever by), the current reality is that it needs to plan on generating sufficient income to pay for its upkeep. The keynote speakers for the day therefore focussed on the journey from restoration to future custodianship with lessons from smaller waterways.
[All photos by George Rogers]