Last August, at the National Waterways Festival at Milton Keynes, British Waterways unveiled plans for a new waterway

Last August, at the National Waterways Festival at Milton Keynes, British Waterways unveiled plans for a new waterway. With nine proposed route options, the 20-mile (32km) waterway would link the River Great Ouse at Bedford with the Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes, costing between £80 and £150 million to build. British Waterways, who are already responsible for the running of 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, say the new canal would bring enormous social, economic and environmental benefits to the region, becoming an important leisure resource, connecting the East Anglian rivers, creating a new cruising ring attracting over 90,000 canal users. The new waterway will be the first to be built in over 100 years and could generate an extra £7 million a year for the local economy, creating 500 new permanent jobs.

British Waterways have begun consulting with local people, councils, canal users and national bodies about the proposed routes. The consultation exercise has been launched following the publication of a report examining the feasibility of the new canal and is now working to regenerate the project. Andrew Stumpf says “There is a strong partnership backing this exciting proposal to build a brand new waterway for the 21st century” .The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust and the Environmental Agency are just two of the partners backing the scheme. With the support of its partners and volunteers,British Waterways aim to complete the new waterway by 2010.

Visit the British Waterways website at www.britishwaterways.co.uk or call 01923 208736 for more information.