Organisations working hard to restore the Montgomery Canal are celebrating after the UK Government announced £15.4 million of Levelling Up funding towards the project.
The funding, announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget speech, will bring the realisation of an ambition to restore the canal to the national network another step closer.
The money will be invested in restoring navigation to most of a 4.4-mile section of the canal from the English border at Llanymynech to Arddleen, near Welshpool.
The successful bid for Levelling Up funding was made by Powys County Council, supported by the Canal & River Trust.
Montgomery Canal Partnership’s chair John Dodwell and Michael Limbrey, Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust chairman, were both delighted with the news and thanked Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams for his support.
“This is extremely good news, “said Mr Dodwell. “We are very grateful to Craig Williams, MP, for his enormous support and encouragement. We are also hugely appreciative of the support from Cllr Rosemarie Harris and her colleagues and staff at Powys County Council.
“It’s also a vindication for Russell George, MS for Montgomeryshire, for his help down the years, and we couldn’t have got this far without the great help from the staff at Canal & River Trust.
“The canal’s restoration will be of enormous benefit to the community and so it’s appropriate that we have had support from Welshpool Town Council and other councils.
“As there will no doubt be terms and conditions attached to the £15.4m grant, the detailed hard work starts now!”
Mr Limbrey said: “It’s absolutely brilliant news. We are really delighted with the work and support of Craig Williams and the teams at Powys County Council and the Canal & River Trust.
“Having been working to revive the canal into Mid Wales for so many years, this is a great step forward to restoring it to the national network.”
Mr Williams, a passionate supporter of the canal restoration, described the Budget announcement as “a milestone day for Montgomeryshire” after decades of local campaigning by “fantastic volunteers” at the Montgomery Canal Partnership and Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust.
“This will transform Montgomeryshire’s economy in opening up so many opportunities and will finally see one of the UK’s most picturesque attractions returned to its former glory,” he said. “The restoration of the canal will bring real investment, real growth and real jobs to Montgomeryshire’s communities.”
Cllr Graham Breeze, a Powys County Councillor for Welshpool Llanerchydol Ward, described the announcement as “the best possible news for Welshpool”.
“It’s impossible to calculate the value of this development to Welshpool and the surrounding area,” he said. “Reopening the canal puts Welshpool firmly back on the UK canal network map and will bring tourists flooding into the area with huge economic benefits.
“Powys County Council Cabinet is to be commended for pressing for the levelling-up funding and recognising the importance of opening this stretch of canal.
“But this is just the latest step. Now we have to hope that vital funding from the Mid Wales Growth deal follows to ensure the completion of the project.
“The news is just reward for the scores of volunteers who, for many years, have fought to keep the canal open.”