Monday, May 21, 2012

River Foulness & Market Weighton Canal feasibility study moves ahead

The Market Weighton Canal north of Newport

I am very pleased to be involved in an exciting feasibility study to look into the better utilisation of the environment of the Market Weighton Canal and River Foulness watercourses, after which it is hoped the findings will be used for developing future proposals and bring in funding to develop, improve and increase the use of the canal and associated pathways.

The project follows on from the award winning Wallingfen Way scheme in the Howdenshire villages of Gilberdyke, Newport and North Cave, and dovetails very well with the Holme on Spalding Moor heritage project. The Market Weighton Canal is an under-appreciated watercourse running from Market Weighton south to the River Humber at Broomfleet that has remained largely dysfunctional apart from for land drainage and some limited fishing since it was closed to navigation in 1971.

An Act for the building of the Canal was passed in 1772. The original purpose was to drain the surrounding wetland of Wallingfen and provide a navigation channel and open up the area for farming. The work started in 1777 and was completed in 1780 - the surveyor for the project was James Pinkerton. During the construction of the Canal clay was found and so a thriving brick making industry began in the area. Grain, coal for the brickworks and bricks and tiles were transported along the Canal, market boats sailing regularly between the Canal Head, Market Weighton and Hull, calling at Broomfleet lock, until the late 1860’s.

I was born at Faxfleet and the Canal and the Broomfleet lock both provided a source of adventure during my childhood, and needless to say still does as I regularly travel the pathways and tracks alongside the Canal, and cross the lock on my mountain bike. The River Foulness runs from land north of Welham Bridge and joins the Canal north of Newport.
The project is being commissioned by Newport Parish Council, in consultation with a wider steering group including: East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Lower Ouse and Humber Water Management Partnership, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency will implement the study. A team of qualified consultants have been appointed, and work on the project will commence in May 2012, with a final report being produced by August. Up to £8k of funding has been provided by the East Riding and North Yorkshire (ER&NY) Waterways Partnership.

The process of the study will be to identify and consult with the community, potential partners and organisations and include a range of site surveys, detailed liaison and community consultation activities to build consensus over the waterway’s future management and purpose. This will include establishing a set of agreed objectives and priorities to balance the multiple benefits and a series of actions to develop their natural, historic and recreational potential, whilst ensuring key drainage and flood management functions are maintained.

It will also be important to establish who needs to be involved and how they would participate in future actions. Undertaking this study will add value to both watercourses by helping to improve their utilisation but not conflict with the systems statutory flood management and land drainage functions, and to attract visitors to enjoy the waterways and their environs in a way that takes into account, develops and celebrates their significant environmental and heritage qualities.

It is important to recognise the potential benefits to the local rural economy, including that of pubs, shops and restaurants through increased tourism, and improved health through the likely increase in walking, cycling, and perhaps even kayaking. The study will also include the recording and preservation of appropriate archive information to explain the historic importance of the Market Weighton Canal’s listed structures, in explaining the reason for their existence, their role in the history of the canal, their importance both regionally and nationally or their relationship with the surrounding natural environment.

There is also a desire to strengthen the linkages between the canal and the communities of Newport, Broomfleet and Holme on Spalding Moor to increase appreciation and engagement with the waterway. The objectives of the study are to identify and engage with local people, groups and organisations through a programme of consultation activities, such as meetings, workshops and surveys for those interested to discuss and gathering views and opinions, and increase awareness and understanding of the cultural, heritage and environmental importance of the waterways.

The study is to also to identify opportunities for people to become involved in helping to shape the future plans for the watercourse area and to participate in future conservation, and uses of the waterways and environment through increased recreational use/visitation of the waterways and how they can be developed into a sustainable community asset that will encourage all users to spend longer and appreciate them more. It is important to identify how a sense of community ownership of the waterways by increasing their use by a wide range of local users and ensuring their long term sustainability can be achieved.

It is also proposed to look at effective linkages to the wider local environment and projects such as the North Cave Wetlands, Trans Pennine Way, Wolds Way, Wallingfen Way and the Holme on Spalding Moor heritage project.

Look out for more information on future local consultation events.


John in Gilberdyke said...

I look forward to seeing the canal being used to a greater extent as a recreational facility. It was a well used transport route in its heyday. however the removal of the old hump back bridge in Newport and the construction of the modern flat road bridge effectively stopped its use for goods haulage.
That does not mean that smaller craft cannot navigate the watercourse and perhaps we could enjoy a boating club with bankside moorings. Mooring levies could contribute to the maintenance and weed control.
It is unfortunate that the contentious bridleway passing Lorne Farm was closed, as this could have provided further non motorised recreational use and given another attraction to the area.

pete said...

Pete in Newport
I feel the canal should be used alot more,than just drainage and occasional fishing,which is mostly poor due to excess weed.Nowport would be an ideal venue for canal boats,bringing more interest to the area and bringing the canal to life.A local boat club and rowing boats for hire would also be a good idea.