Issue date: 11th August 2011
Neath Port Talbot Council has made a proposal to abandon the safeguarding of the line of the Swansea Canal between Ynysmeudwy and Ystalyfera. The IWA South Wales Branch is considering it's response. However, in principle, it is opposed to the abandonment. Once the line is no longer safeguarded, and development is allowed to take place, restoration of that section of canal in the future becomes highly unlikely. This would not only be a very sad loss to the local community, given the well known public benefits that are conveyed by restored canals, it could also jeopardise the remainder of the project due to the possible loss of the water supply from that section.
IWA is concerned about inadequate planning safeguards nationally and its response to the Defra consultation - A New Era for the Waterways - included that the planning system is unduly restrictive in encouraging the protection of the line of disused waterways only when there is a reasonable degree of certainty of a restoration project proceeding in whole or in part within the development plan period. Such lines should also be protected when there is clear potential for restoration outside the time span of the development plan period. Road and railway lines are protected but even when housing or other developments interfere with a road or railway proposal that property can be made subject to compulsory purchase. Compulsory purchase would not apply to canal restoration, making it even more important that the line is protected.