ACCORDING to the speakers at the Montgomery Canal Forum at Oswestry, nature was all important in the restoration of the waterway.
Held on the 2nd August, it was addressed by Alison Patrick, Tourism Officer of Shropshire Council and Jason Leach, Montgomery Canal Regeneration Manager for British Waterways. With Trust Chairman Michael Limbrey explaining:
"It is 30 years since the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust was formed to promote the restoration and development of the Montgomery Canal, working with British Waterways, the local authorities and other statutory and voluntary organisations.
"We believe that the Montgomery Canal has much to offer the local area with its valuable heritage—both locks, bridges and other structures, and its important wildlife habitats—and as an amenity for residents and visitors."
Alison Patrick underlined the importance of the Montgomery Canal, with its link to the World Heritage Site at Chirk, as an important part of the visitor attraction of north-west Shropshire:
"We believe that the canal has more yet to offer as an amenity for local residents and an attraction for visitors, and we were reminded that most visitors to our waterways do not come by boat, but are ramblers, anglers, or just people who like to watch the boats go by.
"This means that restoration of the Montgomery Canal is entirely realistic. It will involve creating areas of off-line nature reserve to protect the canal's ecology, reinstating some road crossings, and rewatering the dry section at Pant. The nature reserves could assist farm diversification and could even become attractions in their own right.
"The message that impressed us most was that restoration of the canal is entirely feasible, and that restoration will be a major boost to the local economy, bringing the benefits that other areas already have from their reopened canals.
"The volunteers of Shropshire Union Canal Society and Waterway Recovery Group have been hard at work this summer to carry the restoration forward. Over half the canal has already been reopened, and many locks and other structures have been restored too, and now there are just three miles to be restored to bring the canal to the border."