Posted inNews

Water licence could affect plan to extend canal to Cwmbran town centre

a canal lock
A lock at Five Locks in Pontnewydd (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

Torfaen’s cabinet was told today that a licence would be needed to extract water from the River Usk before plans to extend the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal to Cwmbran town centre could be funded.

Councillors met this morning to be shown the new ten-year action plan and strategy for the canal. A public consultation in 2022 to help develop the strategy attracted 1,200 responses. Officers also spoke to ward members, community councils, Canal and River Trust, the Monmouthshire, Abergavenny, Brecon Canals
Trust, Bridge 46 to Five Locks Canal Group, Cwmbran Angling, Torfaen Museum Trust, and Torfaen Canal Volunteers.

The consultation found said that the canal could be better maintained, the public enjoy the tranquillity of the canal, and many people would like to see it fully restored.

Councillor Joanne Gauden, executive member for economy, skills and regeneration, introduced the report and said the appointment of Alice Rees, the council’s canal co-ordinator, had helped them develop a “clear vision for the canal”. She said the ten-year plan was in three phases:

  • 2024-2026. Work would be done to attract more people to use the current navigable section of the canal to Five Locks Basin.
  • 2026-2029. The aim is to have the section up to Mount Pleasant Road in Pontnewydd navigable by boats.
  • 2029-2034. Moving towards reaching Cwmbran town centre.
a canal basin
Five Locks Basin in Pontnewydd (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

But Cllr Gauden said that before any funding applications or work could be done to restore the canal to Mount Pleasant Road and Cwmbran town centre the problem over water supply would have be resolved. The canal gets water from the River Usk so if a greater supply was needed, for example, to open up Five Locks in Pontnewydd, a water extraction licence would be needed. This would be to ensure it doesn’t impact on the habitat in and around the River Usk.

Rebecca Hartley, the council’s team leader strategic place projects, told councillors that phases two and three were “dependable” on a “solution” to the water supply. She said there would still be “many benefits without full navigation” as improvements are made along the canal.

Cllr Peter Jones, executive member for corporate governance and performance, said he had seen the “canal deteriorate over the last 30 years but over the last two years there has been a marked improvement”.

Cllr Anthony Hunt, council leader, said it was important not to be “naive in the challenges we face” in relation to the cabinet’s discussion that morning about the 2024/25 budget.

Ms Hartley said that the “availability of water is the biggest challenge. We need more water for restoration”. She then answered Cllr Hunt’s funding comment by saying that “the external funding horizon is a challenge when it comes to capital” and said they would be working with funding partners.

Dave Leech, the council’s strategic director for adults and communities, said that with so many interested groups and organisations involved in the canal, it was “imperative” that they worked together on joint funding bids.

Cllr Sue Morgan, executive member for resources, said it was important that the several volunteer groups who do work along the canal kept involved by officers as the plan develops.

Torfaen Council owns the canal from Bridge 47 at Elm Grove in Griffithstown to the boundary with Newport City Council.

Posted inUncategorized

Water licence could affect plan to extend canal to Cwmbran town centre