Farmer has preference over boaters

Published: Friday, 05 August 2022

THERE is a farmer extracting water from the Coventry Canal near Whittington, writes Keith Gudgin.

When I got there I thought it odd that he was being allowed to do this in the present climate of water shortage and with CaRT closing so many waterways because of it!

KeithPumpHeadHave no water

I immediately sent this email to CaRT HQ:

'With CaRT stating they have no water to replenish the canals are you aware that a major extraction pump is operating between bridges 80 and 81 on the Coventry Canal (detached section) just north west of Whittington, Staffs?

As you may be aware, both the Coventry and Trent & Mersey canals are suffering water shortage problems.

Extracting water from here will just exacerbate the problems on both of these other canals as they both feed this stretch!

This pump has been in operation for some time extracting water from the canal for a reason that cannot be determined from the towpath!

See photo for picture of extraction head in canal.

Thank you.'

Unable to check

I received this reply a couple of days later:

'Hello Keith,

Thank you so much for taking the time to contact us.

Unfortunately, this is not something I would personally be able to check on but I will refer it to our Regional Team now so they're aware and can handle the matter accordingly on their end.

Please contact back if there is anything else we can do for you.

Best wishes,'

And received this from West Midlands later the same day:

'Good afternoon Mr Gudgin,

I can advise you that this is totally in agreement with the Canal & River Trust. Permission has been sought and granted for this abstraction.

Kind regards'

Is it fair?

So, is it fair that CaRT are closing so many waterways and asking boaters to save as much water as they can when they allow farmers take it like this? Why have all extraction permits not been suspended whilst there is such a lack of rain?

The pump was running for over 30 hours non-stop at one point, including right through the night. At what could be around 50,000 litres an hour that's a lot of water. Dog walkers have told me that the same pump is regularly running when they go past.

I'll leave it up to the readers to make their own minds what to make of this? Another case of one rule for them and a different one for us perhaps? Certainly puts CaRT's water shortage excuses into perspective don't you think?