Thames lock safety re­prieve


Canal Boat - - News -

THE EN­VI­RON­MENT AGENCY has scrapped plans to re­move fire ex­tin­guish­ers and por­ta­ble res­cue lad­ders from its locks on the Thames, fol­low­ing protests from the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Boat Own­ers.

The Agency had ear­lier de­fended its de­ci­sion, say­ing that lock-keep­ers were not trained to use the fire ex­tin­guish­ers, and that hav­ing con­sulted with “ex­perts in wa­ter safety and res­cue”, it had been ad­vised that it was “bet­ter and safer to have equip­ment to as­sist a ca­su­alty while ac­cess is made to the lock steps” than to use the por­ta­ble lad­ders.

How­ever, at the Thames Nav­i­ga­tion User Fo­rums meet­ing in Jan­uary EA Wa­ter­ways Man­ager An­drew Gra­ham said that, fol­low­ing an ex­er­cise to in­ves­ti­gate lock is­sues, it had de­cided to re­place the lad­ders with lighter ones and make “lit­tle change” to its fire ex­tin­guisher prac­tice. of the Mont­gomery Wa­ter­way Restora­tion Group plus rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the lo­cal MP and Welsh Govern­ment mem­ber, and has pub­lished a draft Re-open­ing Plan.

The Plan con­cen­trates on the seven-mile ‘miss­ing link’ be­tween the re­stored lengths in Eng­land and Wales, which, if re-opened, would cre­ate a 26-mile con­tin­u­ous nav­i­ga­ble route from the Llan­gollen at Frank­ton through Welsh­pool to Re­fail. The work needed to re­open it is split into five stages, with the costs es­ti­mated: Mor­ton to Llanymynech £5m Llanymynech to Wern £1.1m Wern to Four Crosses £3.3m Four Crosses to Ard­dleen £3.75m Ard­dleen main road cross­ing £1.6m Adding in other works in­clud­ing bank pro­tec­tion, dredg­ing, land ac­qui­si­tion, na­ture re­serves, stud­ies and tow­path work brings it to a to­tal of £30m – but it is be­lieved more use of vol­un­teers could sig­nif­i­cantly cut this.

Fol­low­ing the con­sul­ta­tion, it is planned to take the agreed plan for­ward so that a tourism case, busi­ness plan and fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies can be com­pleted and put for­ward to the Welsh and West­min­ster gov­ern­ments and other po­ten­tial fun­ders – with a ten-year tar­get for open­ing.

Mean­while, at the far end of the canal, there has been re­newed in­ter­est in ex­tend­ing restora­tion through from Re­fail to New­town, with New­town’s Town Coun­cil af­firm­ing its sup­port and agree­ing to work with other groups.

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