British Waterways has announced the probable route of the first new canal to be built for over 100 years.
The 20 mile waterway will link the River Great Ouse at
Bedford with the Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes and hopefully create a fantastic new venue for angling, perhaps even a new water for the Divisional Nationals.
The chosen route will take the canal almost south from the Great Ouse at Kempston, before arcing west and crossing the M1 close to Junction 13. From there it will continue west, joining the
Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes.
The choice of route, which still requires further study and refinement, follows the publication in 2001 of a feasibility report into the project suggesting nine possible routes.
Findings from the report reveal the new canal would bring enormous social, economic and environmental benefits to the region including new wildlife habitats and leisure resources and would attract up to 1.25million visitors into the area, generating an extra £7.5 million a year for the local economy.
Chris Mitchell, British Waterways’ regional director, said: “There is tremendous support in the region for this exciting proposal to build a brand new canal for the 21st Century at a time when record investment is flowing into our waterway network and canals are more popular than ever before.
“Since the launch of the project partnership in November 2001 we have been consulting widely with the local community about the idea of building the canal and which of the nine route options should be selected for further study.
“The chosen route has emerged as the clear favourite. It runs into both town centres and offers the greatest opportunities for bringing the full benefits of waterside living, working and recreation to this area of the south east where there are plans for population growth.
“We’ve seen elsewhere in the country, both in rural and urban areas, the enormous benefits of the regeneration of our inland waterways. From the revitalisation of Brindleyplace in
Birmingham to the restoration of the lowland canals in Scotland and the Kennet & Avon in the South, the ‘new canal age’ is transforming communities across Britain. This brand new canal scheme – the first for 100 years – provides Bedford and Milton Keynes with the opportunity to share in those benefits.”
The project faces a number of major engineering challenges, including scaling the 150ft Brogborough Hill and crossing the M1 motorway. The initial feasibility report into the project estimated the cost of constructing the chosen route at £150million. To see the map of the chosen route visit www.B-MKWaterway.org.uk

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