Government challenged over restoration

Published: Monday, 02 November 2009

THE MP for Lichfield, Michael Fabricant, has challenged the Government over its commitment towards the restoration of the Lichfield and Hatherton canals.

He questioned Huw Irranca-Davies—Minister for Marine and Natural Environment at the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra)—what was being done to support the canal project in his constituency, relates Alan Tilbury.

"Is the Minister aware that studies have shown that the existence of canals can increase economic activity by some 300 per cent. in the areas they serve? What help can he give to the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust, which will provide the much-needed link between canals in the east and the centre parts of the West Midlands?"

Huw Irranca-Davies replied that the Government were committed to canal projects:

"Through our work with British Waterways, the Broads Authority, the inland waterways authorities and others we have made it clear that we recognise the wider public benefits of canals, not just in terms of recreational boating but, for instance, of health, education and awareness of nature.

"I do not want to interfere in individual projects—it is important for them to take place on the ground—but I am always happy to meet Members who feel passionate about their own areas."

Having discussions

Michael Fabricant, patron of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust, confirmed he would be having discussions to see whether a follow-up meeting would be required, explaining:

"I think it's important that Parliament realises that canals are not just for canal users. They help stimulate the local economy too. Lichfield will benefit substantially when the canal is finally restored.


"I will now consult with the Trust and determine if they think a meeting with the Minister is worthwhile in the immediate future."