Kathy Gostick and Andy Carnduff have been adding to the pressure on Scottish Canals to move a bit closer to their statutory obligations and make all of the Scottish canals fit and safe for recreational boating. We are members of the Keep the Canals Alive! group of active users and we seem to be having some beneficial effect, as seen below. What we do is influence politicians to support the allocation of resources to finance essential safety and maintenance work focussed on the “navigation” of the waterways, rather than the “parkland” aspects enjoyed by cyclists and wildlife exponents from the towpath. Our effect is greatly enhanced by independent letters to relevant MSPs and Local Authority members from their constituents who may recognise that boating is a far more popular activity than often thought. Our sport now generates more income to the national economy than golf, and it is almost entirely participant activity, which sits nicely within Scottish Government policy on improving the health of the nation. If you want to cruise to the West, without the cost of trucking or days extra on the long passage around, then please drop your MSP a note, urging their support for focus on navigation within the canals and perhaps a more liberal allocation of funding for operational maintenance rather than for capital development.
By the way, SC have a new CEO, Catherine Topley, who has already made a good impression on canal users, by listening to concerns and opening up Board and Company meetings to much more open scrutiny and reshuffling the staff (hopefully reducing the number of over-paid senior office-bound directors) and talking to staff and users out along the banks. We need a new broom, properly wielded to clear out waste and complacency! Catherine may be just that!
May you enjoy good sailing in 2019 – and of course, in 2020 = the “Year of Coast and Water”
****STOP PRESS ****
Quick response is we fully plan to reopen F& C in April 2019.
R” (R=Richard Millar of Scottish Canals)
As you are aware it has been a challenging season with a number of asset failures restricting navigation along the Lowland canals.
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing patience and to update you on some of the works that are due to be carried out on the Lowland Canals over the Winter of 2018/19.
Forth & Clyde West
Bard Avenue Bridge
We are currently developing a programme of works for the bridge at Bard Avenue over the Winter season with the intention of getting it back into operation by Spring 2019. Once we have a more detailed timescale and schedule of works we will let you know.
Forth & Clyde Middle
Robert Whitworth Bridge, Applecross Street
The Robert Whitworth Bridge has been closed to boating traffic since May 2018 apart from two occasions where we used a crane to lift the deck, allowing vessels to pass through safely. However, we have now removed the rams and are intending to begin replacement works with a provisional completion date of the 22nd of October.
Bonnybridge & Twechar Bridges
With £1.625 million of additional funding from the Scottish Government, we can now carry out the works to both Bonnybridge and Twechar Bridges. Contractors have been engaged and installation works are scheduled for January/February 2019 with testing of both bridges commencing in March 2019 The aim is to have all works completed and both bridges operational by April 2019.
Forth & Clyde East
The Falkirk Wheel
The Falkirk Wheel will undergo its annual maintenance shutdown between the 5th of November and the 1st of December 2018.
There will be an additional shutdown between 7th of January and 22nd of March 2019 to enable us to carry out essential maintenance work identified in the Asset Management Strategy. During this period, boats moored in the basin will be asked to relocate to alternative berths. We will contact individual boat owners closer to the time to make appropriate arrangements.
Lock 6 Repairs
Following the incident at Lock 6 we are still exploring options to repair the lock gates and expect to have them back in operation by Spring 2019. We will continue to keep you updated as works progress.
Linlithgow Embankment Works
Following the embankment surveys that were carried out in 2017, we will be progressing two phases of vital embankment works on the Union Canal at Linlithgow, as set out in our Asset Management Strategy.
The first phase will involve installing 160 metres of sheet piling between Bridge 45 next to Linlithgow Academy at Preston Road and Bridge 48 at Woodcockdale. Works will begin on site on Monday 5th November 2018, lasting for 14 weeks, with the towpath closed from this date to allow plant and machinery to access the canal bank. A towpath diversion will be in place for pedestrians and cyclists during this period, which also includes the two weeks over Christmas and New Year. Navigation will be closed from Thursday 8th November 2018 to enable a partial dewatering of the canal as the channel will be closed by dam structures at both Preston Road Bridge no45 and Woodcockdale bridge no48.
In addition to strengthening the canal embankment, these works will also create eight new, fully serviced, moorings in the area for which full planning permission has been granted.
Phase two of embankment improvements will commence in January 2019 and will involve further sheet piling at Manse Road East. We will write to you again once the details have been confirmed.
Leamington Lift Bridge
Leamington Lift Bridge remains temporarily closed as we continue to work with contractors to develop a technical solution and ongoing discussions are underway with third parties to secure the necessary funding that will deliver a long-term fix. Among the options being considered are replacing the bridge deck with a lighter alternative and incorporating a new lifting bridge within the current structure.
While the temporary closure means that no boats can pass under the bridge, we have managed to create a restricted passage over the bridge for pedestrians and cyclists that maintains this stretch of Scotland’s national walking and cycling network. To ensure public safety, we may need to restrict access across the bridge during times of high winds and when the bridge is closed to pedestrian traffic, we would kindly ask you to take an alternative route.
Dredging and weed-cutting
From the end of this month until February 2019 we will be spot dredging along a stretch of The Union Canal between Bridge 12 and the Almond Aqueduct. Although the channel will remain open, there may be some disruption and we would like to apologise in advance if you are affected. In addition, the weed-cutters we do have will be out across the Lowlands between now and the end of the year.
Given the adverse weather warning for this weekend, please could you ensure that your vessels are properly secure? While our staff are always willing to help, they can’t do anything which puts them at risk.
Once again, I would like to thank you for your ongoing patience over the past few months and reassure you of our commitment to safeguard the canals for all to enjoy. We will write to you again with further information on the Winter Works when we are able to do so.