Ed Gittins – Volunteer of the Month

Created on 12/10/2018

Ed Gittins is one of two Honorary Consultant Planners and is a member of the new IWA Planning Advisory Panel that he helped establish. He tells us about the Panel and his volunteering experiences in this month’s blog. To read the full interview see IWA's forthcoming member's magazine Waterways.

How did you become interested in the waterways?

I was brought up in Oswestry, so close to both the Montgomery and Llangollen canals, and explored them from a young age. This was the 1950s, when the canals were in a very poor state. There was hardly any traffic on the Llangollen. I used to just walk along the towpath and, even at that age, considered it a shame such wonderful amenities weren't surviving.

What is your favourite waterway?

The Llangollen is the one I have closest association with as it's my local waterway, but the Montgomery is the one I would really love to see completed. I'm still hoping it'll all be joined up and I'll be able to get to Newtown in my lifetime, some way or another.

How and when did you get involved in volunteering?

I wasn't actively involved in IWA until ten or eleven years ago when I applied to become a member of the Restoration Committee. I served on that for about seven years, and then the Restoration Hub.

What do you do as an IWA volunteer?

I serve on IWA’s new Planning Advisory Panel. The Panel pulls together the expertise of all the IWA Planning Officers who offer advice and respond to consultations where proposed plans might affect the waterways. I offer professional advice on a wide range of planning matters including Development Plans, Neighbourhood Plans, Planning Applications and Planning Appeals – or just provide an opinion on whether planning permission is required.

What do you enjoy about volunteering?

I have a keen interest in the industrial and architectural archaeology of canals and I enjoy indulging this whenever I can. The larger part of the inland waterways system is national heritage and there's a lot of potential in promoting it further and, by doing so, extending and improving the system. I want to play my part. That's not to say I have tunnel vision (literally!) and don't appreciate the value of canals from other users' perspectives. It’s just I think there is a wider, national importance attached to a system that was created 200 years ago and which is still in operation. It's quite amazing.

What do you feel is the most important role of an IWA branch?

The branches are absolutely vital. It's here that you'll find waterway enthusiasts on the coal face. They're close to the waterways that need to be safeguarded and restored, and they provide the political and physical impetus for their progress and maintenance.

If you are interested in volunteering for IWA see more on our Volunteers' Page.

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Tags: Volunteer of the Month