Fight to save Ger­many’s old­est canal

FINOW CANAL

Canal Boat - - News -

GER­MANY’S FINOW CANAL, the old­est nav­i­ga­ble canal in north­ern main­land Europe, is the sub­ject of a last-ditch at­tempt to stave off clo­sure by the Ger­man Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

Be­gun as long ago as 1603, it linked the River Havel to the River Oder. Al­though by­passed by the larger Oder-Havel Canal in the early 20th Cen­tury, it sur­vived and has been main­tained for leisure traf­fic. How­ever, the Ger­man Trans­port Min­is­ter has now de­cided the cost of main­tain­ing the wa­ter­way is un­jus­ti­fied and it is to be aban­doned, with its his­toric locks con­verted to weirs.

Wa­ter­way supporters be­lieve it should be pre­served for its cul­tural her­itage, its sym­bolic po­si­tion as a link be­tween east and west, and its un­tapped tourist po­ten­tial. But the only chance ap­pears to be for the ter­mi­nate in a new canal quar­ter as part of a town re­gen­er­a­tion – and on the prac­ti­cal side, a road im­prove­ment scheme in­cluded a bridge for the new wa­ter­way. But in re­cent years there have been dis­agree­ments be­tween town and dis­trict coun­cils on the sub­ject, and no fur­ther phys­i­cal work.

Now, how­ever, the DDC has ap­proved £110,000 to­wards putting in a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for an ‘A-frame’ boat lift struc­ture to over­come most of the change in level, with a view to “cre­at­ing a re­gional and po­ten­tially na­tional tourist at­trac­tion to help drive in­vest­ment in to the Dis­trict”. lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to take it on – and so far, they have given no such un­der­tak­ing.

Pres­sure group Unser Fi­nowkanal is try­ing to per­suade the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to save the canal – and has set up an on­line pe­ti­tion in sup­port. See we­act.dampact.de and put ‘fi­nowkanal’ in the search box to find it.

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