Fight to save Germany’s oldest canal
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.