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Study to Consider Feasibility of Reopening Montgomery Canal to Newtown

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A long term ambition to restore the Montgomery Canal to Newtown is to be the subject of a feasibility study following a meeting held in the town recently.

The meeting was arranged by Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust and Montgomery Canal Partnership at the request of local MP Craig Williams.

More than 30 invited representatives of agencies, authorities and charities with an interest in the canal, including four Powys County Council portfolio holders, attended.

This year is the 200th anniversary of the final opening to the Montgomery Canal to Newtown. The canal, which starts in Frankton Junction near Ellesmere and runs through Welshpool, closed after a burst bank in 1936.

John Dodwell, Montgomery Canal Partnership chair and Michael Limbrey, Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust charman, outlined the challenges and opportunities associated with reopening the canal from Refail, Berriew to Newtown.

Both men were delighted with the enthusiasm expressed at the meeting to restore the canal to Newtown.

“I was pleased that Craig Williams called the meeting and with the attendance of a wide range of interested parties,” said Mr Dodwell. “Restoring the canal to Newtown is phase four and the long term objective.

“We are at the very early stages and need to manage public expectations, as these things take a long time to bring to fruition. Firstly, we need to commission a feasibility study.

“We currently have our hands full with phase three but we need to plan ahead in collaboration with all interested parties.”

Mr Limbrey said it was most valuable that so many different interests in the canal were represented at the meeting. He was impressed and encouraged by the enthusiasm in the room to restore the canal.

“It has always been the ambition of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust to reopen the canal back to a destination terminus in Newtown but everybody accepts that there are challenges to overcome,” he said.

“The priority at this stage has to be to reconnect the Welshpool section of the Montgomery Canal to the national waterway network, but we don’t want to lose sight of reopening the whole canal to Newtown.”

Mr Williams said:

“It was good to get all interested parties in the same room to demonstrate the political will to restore the canal to Newtown which I think would be hugely transformational for tourism and the local economy.

“The vision of how the canal arrives in Newtown, as a terminus destination, is incredibly important.”

Half the 35-mile Montgomery Canal has now been restored and the UK Government recently announced £15.4 million Levelling Up Fund support to restore navigation to most of a 4.4-mile section from Llanymynech to Maerdy, near Welshpool.

Anybody interested in supporting the canal restoration is asked to contact Mr Limbrey on Tel: 01691 654081 or email: [email protected] .