Wiltshire

Bid to get Kennet and Avon Canal cruiseway status

Barge on Kennet and Avon Canal
Image caption The reclassification is backed by British Waterways and the Kennet and Avon Canal trust

Supporters of the Kennet and Avon Canal are attempting to get the waterway reclassified as a fully-working canal.

At present the 87 mile waterway has remainder status - one step up from a derelict canal.

If the six-week public consultation is successful then the government could upgrade it to a national cruiseway.

This would mean the canal would have to be maintained to a level where cruising craft, such as narrowboats, can safely navigate the length of the canal.

The reclassification is backed by British Waterways, the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust and by canal supporters.

'Lottery grant'

A British Waterways' spokesman said it had been managing the canal as if it had cruiseway status since its multi-million pound restoration 10 years ago.

"We think that the formalisation of this status is beneficial to the canal, helping to secure its long term future.

"We believe that this is the appropriate classification for this popular and much-loved waterway, which this year is celebrating its 200th anniversary," he added.

The canal runs from the Thames at Reading westwards to the Bristol Avon near Bath.

Partly derelict by the 1950s, the canal was reopened to navigation by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1990.

A Heritage Lottery Fund grant completed the restoration work which was finished in 2003.

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