Summer restrictions over water worries, Chesterfield survives HS2 threat, Sabrina returns,
WITH A RETURN to dry weather predicted as Canal Boat went to press, and several watersaving overnight lock closures already in place following the dry winter and spring, there were concerns that more restrictions might be needed before the end of the summer.
In a reversal of the more common situation, the first restrictions were in the North, but have spread southwards during the summer:
On the Leeds & Liverpool lock hours restrictions have been in place in the Wigan area since early June, with the top and bottom locks of the main 21-lock flight limited to two hours of opening daily at 8am to 9am ( to allow boats into the flight) and 2pm to 3pm ( to let them out again). In addition, locks 88 and 89 west of Wigan plus Poolstock Locks on the Leigh Branch are shut overnight from 8pm to 8am
On the River Thames late June saw the Environment Agency issuing a warning that despite closing all weir sluices it could no longer guarantee the minimum 3ft depth on the river above Oxford. Lock staff in the Oxford area have been instructed to try to avoid emptying locks unless they contain at least one boat; known shallows are marked with buoys ( leave the red ones to your left and green to your right when heading upriver), and boaters are warned to expect low levels especially just downstream of locks.
On the Kennet & Avon, a combination of dry weather, lock gate leakage and pumping problems by the end of June led to a reduction at Crofton Locks 53-56 to only five hours a day opening, from 10am to 3pm.
On the Oxford Canal in mid-July, the Trust was reporting that ‘recent water losses to the summit pound’ had led to overnight closures of the locks at either end of the summit ( Marston Doles and Claydon top locks) from 6pm to 8.30am.
Overall, though, the situation remains less serious than in the drought of 2011, with most of the network still unaffected as we went to press.
Water worries on the Oxford