Support for the lost route to the sea

Published: Wednesday, 21 October 2009

REGULAR readers will be well aware of the sterling work of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust in restoring the 'lost route to the sea'.

Now a £93 millions project has been boosted by overwhelming public support, with a  consultation in Shalford getting over 90%  of the 320 people attending in favour of the plan, and only 6.7% against.

This first exhibition by the trust to get feedback on detailed proposals drawn up by engineers WS Atkins to provide a 26km ‘green corridor' that would link the Wey Navigation to the Arun and the English Channel.

The trust now has 2,743 members, with the cruises operated by the trust causing a jump in membership, with its electric trip boat pictured.

One of the major challenges facing the trust in realising its aim is finding a new route through Bramley, near Guildford, as the original line of the canal has been partly erased by the building of Linersh Wood Close, with several possible detours having been identified.

The main aim of the trust over the coming year is to extend the operational stretch of the canal northwards from Loxwood, and the secondary aim is to progress the Bramley Link Project.

Bramley residents opposed the proposed link in the 1970s when the trust was first formed, so its members are pleased by the latest show of support, with spokesman Bill Thompson remarking:

"This is quite a dramatic turnaround, for we had a public consultation in Bramley four years ago and there was still quite a high level of opposition.

"Atkins came out in favour of the scheme because of the economic benefits due to the increased number of people who would be using the canal for leisure pursuits.

"When we first had the scheme costed it was £20m. The price goes up all the time, but it still compares very favourably with the cost of a mile of motorway, and there is money available from grant-giving bodies and quite a lot comes in from legacies and private donations."