2013 News

Awards to Three Local Members - Sept/Oct 2013

Three local members of IWA have recently received awards for their significant contributions to the charitable work of the Association.

Harry Arnold MBE was presented with IWA’s premier award, the Cyril Styring Trophy, at the Annual General Meeting.  Harry is a well known waterways photographer and has had many roles over the years in IWA including with Festivals, Waterway Recovery Group, Editor of Waterways magazine, and as a Trustee, and is now a Vice-President of the Association.

Richard Bird Medals, for members of the Association whose efforts and support are considered to have brought significant benefit to the Association over a sustained period, were awarded to John Stockland and Margaret Beardsmore.

The first picture shows (left to right) Les Etheridge, National Chairman, with Harry Arnold and John Stockland holding their awards at the AGM at Ettington on 28th September.  (Photo from Julie Arnold, Waterway Images)

John Stockland is the longest serving member of Lichfield Branch committee with nearly 30 years service as Meetings Secretary, Branch Secretary and latterly as Publicity Officer.  John also assisted with national Festivals over many years including 9 years as Waterspace Director.

The second photo shows Margaret Beardsmore receiving her Richard Bird medal from Lichfield Branch Chairman Helen Whitehouse at the Branch public meeting in Lichfield on 16th October.

Margaret Beardsmore has fulfilled several roles on Lichfield Branch committee including two years as Branch Chairman.  Over the last few years she has organised a programme of waterway related walks and then initiated work parties at Rugeley that have brought together many local people, community groups and Councils in projects to improve the canal corridor through the town.  (Reports of the walks and work parties can be seen on the Activities pages of this website).

IWA Donation to Lichfield Canal Restoration - Sunday 22nd September 2013

IWA Lichfield Branch has donated £300 towards the continuing restoration of the Lichfield Canal.

Barbara Hodgson, treasurer of Lichfield Branch, presented the cheque to Brian Kingshott, chairman of the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (L&HCRT) at the Huddlesford Heritage Gathering.  This very successful event, organised jointly by the Trust and Lichfield Cruising Club, was held over the weekend of 21-22 September at Huddlesford Junction where the Lichfield Canal joins the Coventry Canal.  IWA had a sales and promotion marquee at the Gathering and also organised WoW (Wild over Waterways) activities for the youngsters.


In the photo, left to right, are Bob Williams, Finance Director of L&HCRT, Peter Buck, Engineering Director of L&HCRT, Brian Kingshott, Chairman of L&HCRT, and Barbara Hodgson, Treasurer of Lichfield Branch of the Inland Waterways Association.  (Photo by Paul Marshall)




HS2 Consultations - May 2013

Two new consultations on the HS2 high speed rail proposals were announced on 16th May, on the Design Refinement document and on the Phase One Draft Environmental Statement.
The Design Refinement Consultation document proposes 14 design ‘refinements’ to the Phase 1 route between London and Lichfield, and several of these affect the previously announced canal crossings.

At Northolt in London, the surface route following an existing railway and bridging the Grand Union Canal Paddington Arm would be replaced by a 9 km long bored tunnel crossing underneath the canal.

At South Harefield, the long high viaduct across the Colne Valley and the Grand Union Canal will be moved 60 metres north, taking it closer to Harefield Marina.  Some works will also be included on either side of the valley on junctions for a future link to Heathrow Airport.  If the Heathrow Spur is approved as part of Phase 2 it will tunnel under the canal here but further south it includes a bridge crossing of the Grand Union Canal Slough Arm.

At Curdworth, the junction for the Phase 2 line to Leeds is now to be included in the Phase 1 construction, although this lies on the other side of the M42 from the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.

Near Lichfield, the junction for the Phase 2 line to Manchester is now included in the Phase 1 construction, introducing a 3rd bridge over the Trent & Mersey Canal west of Fradley Junction.

The northern end of the Phase 1 line has also been realigned to reduce the land take from development sites at Fradley Business Park, resulting in the previously announced double crossing of the canal being moved further away from Woodend Lock.  However, the design of the grade separated junction results in the tracks at one of these crossings being at very different levels, further increasing the visual impact and effectively creating 4 railway crossings in close proximity !

From west to east these are:

- Phase 1 canal bridge about 100 metres north of Woodend Lock, with some difference in track levels, and cutting through Ravenshaw Wood.

- Phase 1 canal bridge about 600 metres east of Woodend Lock, with major differences in track levels, making this effectively 2 adjacent bridges at different levels.

- Phase 2 canal bridge about 150 metres further east, and about 500 metres above Shade House Lock, cutting through part of Fradley Wood.  This bridge and sections of embankment on either side would be constructed at the same time as the Phase 1 bridges.

At Saltley Viaduct in Birmingham two extra tracks for access to a maintenance depot at Washwood Heath would require a wider bridge over the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal.

The Draft Environmental Statement Consultation is a very large set of documents and maps including a Non-Technical Summary, Volume 1 the main report, and Volume 2 which consists of 26 Community Forum Area (CFA) reports and separate CFA Mapbooks, plus a 27th route-wide effects report.  Volume 1 describes the proposed scheme and methods of assessing and mitigating its environmental impacts.  The CFA reports give more detailed local information including construction and operation, community forum engagement and alternative options considered, and environmental assessments of the effects on agriculture, air quality, community, cultural heritage, ecology, land quality, landscape, socio-economics, noise and vibration, traffic and transport, and water resources.

Within Lichfield Branch area the main impacts on the canals are at Curdworth, Cappers Lane, Huddlesford-Streethay, and Woodend-Fradley.

At Curdworth (CFA Report 20 Curdworth to Middleton) the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal is crossed at a skew angle by a viaduct between Lock 5 (numbering down from the top) and Lock 6 at White Bridge.  This 350 metre long viaduct also crosses Marston Lane and the adjacent M42, with the section over the motorway, bizarrely, labelled on most of the maps as Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Viaduct No.1 (the canal crossing being No.2) !

HS2 crossing point at Curdworth Locks 4 to 6 HS2 Curdworth photomontage (HS2 Ltd)

The photograph shows the view down from Lock 4 by the Marston Lane maintenance yard to Lock 5 with Lock 6 and White Bridge in the distance.  It is instructive to compare this with the widely publicised photomontage of the viaduct with a High Speed Train crossing the canal, although this is shown just above Lock 5 and in its correct location the viaduct will be about 9 metres (30 ft) above the towpath. 

However, knowing the width of the top of the lock (about 8 ft) it is obvious that the size of the train has been greatly distorted and reduced.  The carriages appear to be only about 6 ft high and less than 30 ft long, even allowing for the skew angle.  Whoever produced this image got their scaling seriously wrong and in reality the train will be at least twice the size shown !  It will therefore be travelling at least twice as fast as in the much publicised video sequence from which this image is taken, with correspondingly greater visual and noise impacts.

The detailed plans reveal other impacts on the canal here include the embankment beyond the viaduct, the end of which is close to Lock 6, a new access road on the offside of the canal by Locks 5 and 4, and two construction compounds adjacent to the canal by Locks 5 and 3.  The noise contour maps also show very high values around the viaduct, adding to the already intrusive noise from the M42.

At Cappers Lane (CFA Report 22 Whittington to Handsacre) the Lichfield Canal restoration (former Wyrley & Essington Canal) is crossed at a skew angle by a 250 metre long viaduct directly above the reinstated Cappers Lane Canal Bridge.  Although the height is ample for navigation, the elevation will exacerbate the noise and visual intrusion.  There are concerns about the exact location of the viaduct piers in relation to the towpath and about access to the Lichfield Cruising Club slipway which may need to be relocated.
HS2 Cappers Lane Canal Bridge reinstated 2006The end of the adjacent embankment and associated landscaping will permanently intrude on Lichfield Cruising Club’s offside moorings, and the loss of land and disruption to the moorings during the 18 month construction period is acknowledged in the report.  A construction compound will be close to the canal and a temporary haul road is shown crossing the un-restored section of canal between Lock 30 and the lift bridge.  Due to construction disturbance the residents of Canal Cottage at Cappers Lane may need to be temporarily re-housed.

A panoramic photomontage of a train on the viaduct above Cappers Lane gives an impression of its considerable visual impact, although the perspective again looks distorted and unconvincing.

The Huddlesford to Streethay section of the Coventry Canal (CFA 22) now enjoys a pleasant rural environment but the HS2 route will run on an embankment to the west, only 100 metres away near Steppingstones Bridge 84 (shown as Stoney Step Bridge on the HS2 plans !). 
HS2 affected view from Steppingstones Bridge 84A surprise inclusion in the Draft ES is a “Potential Temporary Materials Stockpile” occupying a huge area of land on both sides of the canal between the existing railway bridge at Streethay and Huddlesford, a distance of about 1.3 km (0.8 miles), including the new Kings Orchard Marina which isn’t even shown on the plans.  Access for materials stockpiling would be from temporary railway sidings although there is no indication of how this would cross the canal.  Use of this area would last 5 or 6 years.

Worryingly, this and the other CFA reports admit that “the impact on the usage of the waterways has not yet been assessed” !

The Woodend to Fradley Junction section of the Trent & Mersey Canal (CFA 22) is one of the most damaging canal crossings nationally.  The ‘refined’ design (see above) still seriously affects the environment and heritage of the canal, especially the setting of Woodend Lock and cottage which are Listed Buildings within the canal Conservation Area.  The report admits that these would suffer ‘significant’ effects. (See January 2012 report below for photo.).

The view down the valley from the scenic and historically significant corner at Woodend, where the canal changes from an overall north-south to an east-west course, would be drastically changed by the proposed embankments and landscape planting.  Three construction compounds near the canal would be in use for 18 months whilst the embankments and 4 canal bridges (see above) are built.  Due to construction disturbance the moorings above Woodend Lock would be temporarily displaced and the residents of the lock cottage may need to be temporarily re-housed.

The line beyond Woodend cuts through Ravenshaw Wood and continues to run close to the canal for some distance towards Kings Bromley Wharf.

Alternative route alignments at Woodend including a tunnel under the canal (unlikely) or a diversion of the canal (worse than the present proposal) are apparently still being considered, as is Lichfield Branch’s proposal for an alternative alignment that would avoid the Phase 1 route crossing the canal at all.

Note:  All the consultation documents can be seen and downloaded from www.hs2.org.uk
Both consultations run until 11 July 2013.
Download the full response from Lichfield Branch as a pdf file (300KB).

Waterways Renaissance Awards to Lichfield Branch - May 2013

Waterways Renaissance Awards presentation to Margaret & Derek Beardsmore (CRT)IWA Lichfield Branch's ongoing Rugeley Canalside Regeneration Project has been named as Runner-Up in the Partnership Category and Commended in the Community Category of the prestigeous Waterways Renaissance Awards. 

Margaret and Derek Beardsmore who have led the project from its inception in 2010 are pictured receiving the two awards at a presentation ceremony at the ICC in Birmingham on 23rd May.

The project has achieved a series of improvements to the Trent & Mersey Canal through Rugeley supported by a broad community partnership.

The Waterways Renaissance Awards, organised by the Canal & River Trust, recognise exceptional projects that are helping to care for canals and rivers across the UK.

Update - August 2013
Margaret Beardsmore is featured as IWA's Volunteer of the Month in an interview about her inspirational volunteer regeneration project at Rugeley.

Canalside Wind Turbine Blown Away on Appeal - March 2013

A Proposed 67 metre (220 foot) high wind turbine close to the Daw End Branch Canal at Aldridge has been rejected on appeal by the planning inspector.  The turbine at College Farm near Riddian Bridge and Park Lime Pits would have been in the Green Belt and one of the few remaining areas of unspoilt countryside along the Birmingham Canal Navigations.

IWA Lichfield Branch objected to the original application in 2011 because of its visual impact on the rural setting of the canal and the damage to its recreational amenity and tourism value.  Whilst a smaller turbine could have been more acceptable, at 500kw this proposal would have generated more than 10 times the power needed for the farm and could have set a precedent for other industrial scale wind turbines across the Green Belt.

The turbine plans generated a lot of local opposition and were refused permission by Walsall Council because of its excessive size, damage to the openness of the Green Belt, and safety concerns from its proximity to a public footpath.  The applicant then Appealed the decision and also proposed moving the turbine further from the footpath to give a minimum ‘fall-over’ distance of the overall height plus 10% (to comply with Government guidance on separation from public rights of way) but continued to ignore the public access to the canal and towpath which was closer.

However, the planning inspector has dismissed the appeal, citing the effect on the character of the countryside and openness of the Green Belt, the visual impact of both its size and rotational movement, and insufficient safety clearance from the canal and towpath.

There have been a disturbing number of incidents worldwide in which spinning blades have broken off large wind turbines or the whole tower has collapsed.  So, for any IWA planning officers opposing similar proposals near waterways, this decision is significant in upholding the advice on safe separation distances in The Companion Guide to Planning Policy Statement 22 Planning for Renewable Energy (which remains extant despite abolition of PPS22 itself).

The Appeal decision can be found on the Planning Portal at https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk by entering the case reference 2175517

For further information on this and other local planning issues in IWA Lichfield Branch area see www.waterways.org.uk/lichfield/planning  or contact phil.sharpe@waterways.org.uk 

HS2 High Speed Rail, Phase 2 route affects several canals – January 2013

The Government announced its preferred routes for Phase 2 of the High Speed Rail (HS2) network on 28th January.  Phase 1 was from London to Birmingham and onto Lichfield (see January 2012 report) and Phase 2 extends the line to Manchester and to Leeds.  The plans show several canal crossings in IWA’s Lichfield Branch area, including the Trent & Mersey Canal at Fradley and Great Haywood, the Coventry Canal at Polesworth, and the planned restoration route of the Ashby Canal at Measham.

The Lichfield to Manchester section starts from the Phase 1 link to the West Coast Main Line (WCML) near Streethay. This link already crosses the Trent & Mersey Canal twice, at and near Woodend Lock.  The new line adds a further bridge over the canal between Woodend and Shade House locks, creating three canal crossings in close proximity above Fradley Junction.  Further north it crosses the T&M again right alongside the marina at Great Haywood, on a viaduct about 10 metres high, although the plans don’t even show the marina.

Shade House Lock


Pooley Hall Colliery Basin Moorings

Shade House Lock, Trent & Mersey Canal.  HS2 will
cross through the woods in the middle distance.


Pooley Hall Colliery Basin moorings, Coventry Canal.
The HS2 bridge will cross right over this point.

( Photos by Phil Sharpe)



The Water Orton to Leeds section crosses the Coventry Canal at Polesworth, by a bridge about 10 metres high, after cutting through the canalside Pooley Fields Heritage Centre.  At Measham where it runs close to the A42 it crosses Burton Road, but with no bridge shown over the adjacent Ashby Canal line where proposed for restoration.

Numerous alternative alignments were considered at the planning stage and are detailed in the documents now released.  A public consultation on the preferred options is promised during 2013.  IWA will seek to minimise the visual and noise impact of the three new canal crossings and to ensure proper provision for the Ashby Canal restoration.  We also continue to challenge the alignment of the Phase 1 WCML link with its 2 avoidable crossings of the canal, which threaten destruction of the lock cottage at Wood End Lock and would seriously damage the historic canal environment.  With construction of Phase 2 expected to closely follow on from Phase 1, the need for this temporary link to be built at all is now very questionable.

North of the Lichfield Branch area, the Manchester route of HS2 and its link to the WCML near Wigan also crosses the Middlewich Branch and the Trent & Mersey again near Bostock Hall, the Bridgewater Canal at Agden Bridge and the Manchester Ship Canal.  The Leeds route crosses the River Soar at Redhill, the River Trent’s Cranfleet Cut, the Erewash Canal (twice), the Sheffield Canal and the Aire & Calder Navigation three times between Wakefield and Leeds.  All these crossings have adequate headroom, but there is no indication of any bridges to allow for the restoration of the Chesterfield Canal between Staveley, Renishaw and Killamarsh where the main route and a branch to a proposed Maintenance Depot cross the original canal line in several places. 

All the plans and supporting documents can all be seen at: