The two lift bridges, at Twechar and Bonnybridge, are situated around the middle of the Scottish lowlands canal, and their closure would affect all local traffic, the hire boat trade and any seagoing craft wishing to traverse the canal from one coast to the other.
The Forth & Clyde Canal was restored to navigation in 2001 following National Lottery funding as a Millennium project. IWA considers that in order for Scottish Canals to fulfil its statutory requirement as navigation authority to keep the restored lowland canals in full working order, repairs to these two bridges should be carried out as a matter of urgency.
IWA has raised the following issues with Scottish Canals, and has asked for everything to be done to keep the closures as short as possible:
- The coast to coast through route across the lowlands of Scotland will not be available to sea going or inland craft for the duration of the closures.
- The hire boat trade will be impacted as hirers will only have one half of the Forth & Clyde Canal available to them. This will be likely to affect bookings for the hire fleet as many hirers will wait until the whole canal is open to them. Those who have already booked and planned to visit Glasgow may cancel, affecting the viability of the hire boat operation.
- Any boats based between the two bridges, such as those based at Auchinstarry Basin, will be trapped and unable to move until the bridges are repaired.
- If the canal is closed for any significant amount of time, other structures such as nearby locks and other moveable bridges will deteriorate through lack of use, resulting in even more funds required for repairs in the future.
Photo: Twechar Bridge, Forth & Clyde Canal Photographer: Phil Sharpe