Erewash canal: HS2 concerns raised at water festival

Festival boats Image copyright Tim Lewis
Image caption About 120 canal boats are expected to take part in the Festival of Water

About 15,000 people are expected at a Derbyshire festival which aims to highlight the impact of the HS2 high-speed rail project on a nearby canal.

The Erewash Canal was chosen by the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) to host the Festival of Water to show how the rail scheme could affect the area.

Campaigners are worried a 16m-high (52ft) viaduct would "overshadow" the canal and "increase noise".

HS2 said it would work with communities to reduce the impact on the canal.

Image copyright IWA festival
Image caption The last festival was held in Pelsall, in Walsall

The IWA said holding the three-day festival at the "underused" Erewash Canal, near Ilkeston, was a chance to encourage more boaters to the area and highlight its campaign to minimise the effects of the HS2 line, which is due to run alongside.

The group is also concerned a proposed viaduct through Long Eaton will overshadow the canal and the lock, close to the planned East Midlands HS2 hub station in Toton.

A proposed realignment of the M1, to accommodate the £55.7bn line, could also affect the waterway, said campaigners.

Image copyright IWA festival
Image caption Musicians will entertain the crowds along the Erewash Canal

HS2 Ltd said it was in the early stages of the viaduct's design and that an assessment of the environmental impact would be published in May, followed by a public consultation.

A spokeswoman said: "We are committed to working with communities and stakeholders to identify appropriate solutions to further reduce impacts on heritage features including canals."

The IWA held its first festival in Market Harborough in 1950 to raise awareness about the "poor state" of British waterways.

The campaigners have since held annual festivals and boat rallies to promote waterways.

About 15,000 people are expected to attend the event at Gallows Inn Playing Field, Ilkeston, with about 120 narrow boats and trail boats moored up along the 12-mile (19km) stretch of canal.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Campaigners say the HS2 project will have a "visual impact" on the waterways

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