HC Deb 05 December 1961 vol 650 cc156-8W
Mr. G. Wilson

asked the Minister of Transport if he approved the proposals in the British Transport Commission Bill for closing canals to navigation; and what advice he received from the Inland Waterways Redevelopment Committee in respect thereof.

4. Mr. Marples

I have approved the inclusion in the Bill of all these proposals. In the case of eleven of the stretches of waterway in question, immediate closure to navigation was recommended by the Committee as part of redevelopment proposals put forward by British Waterways and endorsed by the Committee. These eleven cases are:

  1. 1. Ashton Canal (Stockport Branch).
  2. 2. River Calder (a length of 7¾ miles).
  3. 3. Chesterfield Canal (a length of 20 miles).
  4. 4. Cromford Canal (the length of ½ mile still open to navigation).
  5. 5. Grand Union Canal (City Road Basin) (with the exception of a channel 30 feet wide).
  6. 6. Grand Union Canal (Buckingham Arm).
  7. 7. Grand Western Canal.
  8. 8. Huddersfield Narrow and Broad Canals (a length of ¾ mile).
  9. 9. Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals (two lengths, totalling six miles).
  10. 10. Swansea Canal.
  11. 11. Trent and Mersey Canal (Burslem Arm).

I the case of four other stretches of waterway the Committee did not recommend immediate closure to navigation. These four cases are:—

Chesterfield Canal (the length of 25 miles from Worksop to West Stock-with).

In this case the Committee recommended restoration for pleasure boating. The scheme would involve substantial additional capital and annual expenditure. No offers or guarantees of financial assistance have been made by those who would benefit, so that the additional expenditure would fall on the taxpayer. Neither the British Transport Commission nor [ feel that that this expenditure could be justified in present circumstan- ces, and I have decided to approve the Commission's application for closure powers. I have, however, deferred a final decision on this restoration proposal. Pleasure boating will not, of course, be ruled out merely by formal closure to navigation, and the Commission have given an undertaking to maintain the section in its present condition until a final decision is reached. This means that the present headrooms under bridges, depths of water, locks etc., will be kept as they are until further notice.

Dudley Canal (a length of 2½ miles, including the Dudley Tunnel).

The Committee recommended that a decision on the closure of the Dudley Canal should await the need to replace the railway bridge near the Dudley Tunnel. This work has now become urgently necessary and I have therefore decided to approve the seeking of closure powers without delay.

Erewash Canal (the length of 5 miles, from Langley Mill to Ilkeston).

The Committee suggested that closure of this stretch might await a change in the circumstances affecting closure. After reviewing the factors involved, including the risk of a possible recurrence of mining subsidence, I have come to the conclusion that these favour the immediate closure to navigation of this section of the canal.

Grand Union Canal (Old Stratford Cut).

The Committee envisaged possible restoration for pleasure boating, but they suggested that no scheme should be proceeded with until it was clear that the demand would justify the cost. As in the case of the Chesterfield Canal, I have approved the Commission's application for closure, but I have deferred a final decision on the proposal for restoration and the Commission have given an undertaking to maintain the length in its present condition until a final decision is reached.