Trent & Mersey Breach – Update from CRT

October 4th 2012

Vince Moran, Operations Director of the Canal & River Trust has just issued the following update:

Thank you to all those who have responded to the Trent & Mersey emergency breach appeal – your financial and moral support is much appreciated. The idea of having a public appeal came from a member of one of our Waterway Partnerships in this area – another example of the benefits of these Partnerships.

We are delighted that we have so far raised £7,000 – as a brand new charity this is fantastic and we are extremely grateful to each of the 390 individuals who have chosen to support us. Included in this figure is a gift of £1,000 pledged by the Trent & Mersey Canal Society – the equivalent of half of the annual subscription of each of their members. This incredibly generous donation is also a great show of solidarity that we are very grateful for.

We start each year with a £2m contingency in our budgets. In the early autumn we review if it will be needed or has been allocated already. If not, we plan how to use it: last year we were able to use it largely for a blitz on tree cutting. This year we had already allocated £1m for extra bank protection on the Mon & Brec.

We were about to allocate the other £1m for additional works we were going to do this winter when the Trent & Mersey breached and the Croxton embankment was damaged. Our preliminary repairs estimate is £1.5m, a significant part of which will relate to accessing both sites. So that’s the contingency used up plus a bit more – and am I glad we had that money in our plans. So the repairs will be done as a matter of urgency and we have to work out whether we defer some of the other jobs we had planned for the winter, or continue with those jobs and overspend a bit this year with less money then available next year – the accountants will have to sort out how that all works as my focus is on getting our works done as efficiently and effectively as possible.

As some of the Forum members have said, charities do have appeals – it’s one of the things they do e.g. the National Trust. Whether people contribute is entirely up to them – some of our earlier and most generous gifts have come from the boating community, but we are now working with the local press and volunteers to raise awareness of and generate responses to the appeal from wider segments of the community who also know and love this canal and it’s towpath. We have already received a gift of £250 from Birkenhead YMCA who have supported this canal through volunteering for many years, and who use the narrow boat they moor on it to support homeless and disadvantaged young people.

I have just left both repair sites. Our major civil engineering contractor is on site at Croxton Flash and has already started the preliminary work which includes laying an access track. It looks like at least 50metre of embankment will need to be repaired working from the river below, which will be challenging. At Dutton the Trust’s engineers and local team are assessing the various solutions for what will be a complex repair given the challenges of access to the site – which really is in a quiet and rural location. It has got to be half a mile walk from the nearest bridge and the embankment is on a steep slope. ‘Finger in the air’, the estimate is that 1,000 tonnes of material (the embankment was largely made of sand) has been washed away. As to what caused the breach at Dutton, we’ll never 100% know, however it was certainly down to the saturated ground from such heavy rainfall, probably combined with a tree (still in leaf) that had fallen and destabilised the bank. What we do know is that we had not recorded any leaks at the embankment before the deluge or any other reasons to be overly concerned. We are really grateful to the member of the public who alerted us to a developing problem at the site so that we were able to take action by getting stop planks in before the breach happened.

Vince Moran, Operations Director


The Canal & River Trust is a new charity entrusted with the care of 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales. Get involved, join us – Visit / Donate / Volunteer at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

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