Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal
The year 2022 has been one of re-establishing the Monmouthshire, Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust and rebuilding partnerships with the canal owners and other groups. It had been hoping to resurrect the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals Regeneration Partnership Group to facilitate cross-boundary coordination and restoration. The purpose of this group is to ensure that the canal owners are working together to coordinate their efforts. The group has not yet met again but individual councils have been working on the ground with their immediate council neighbours. This cooperation has been almost exclusively at an engineering level. However, it is believed that a more strategic, higher-level partnership will bring benefits to the whole canal and the trust continues to push for this.
MBACT has been working closely with Torfaen County Borough Council. Torfaen has appointed a new canal officer who brings a real focus to the trust’s work with the council. The Torfaen CBC Canal Working Group has met several times and the trust continues to work with the Bridge No 46 to Five Locks Canal Group as part of this. TCBC is working on a new draft strategy for the canal and MBACT is actively working with them on this. There will be a public consultation on the canal strategy over the next two months. The trust is encouraged that Torfaen CBC is working on a strategy for the canal through north Cwmbran, although it is strongly believed that the timescale (of over ten years) for restoration of a relatively short section of the canal is much too long. MBACT will continue to lobby for what it feels would be a more realistic timescale.
The trust has been working for some time on a concept for a proposed waterways park at Ty Coch in south Cwmbran. The proposal was for a new balance pond and a possible visitor centre on Torfaen Council-owned land near the previously restored Ty Coch locks. MBACT had been looking for funding from HLF towards this. However, this potential funding application was put on hold due to Covid. The trust has recently decided that it would not proceed with a funding application for this conceptual project so that it could support Torfaen’s focus on restoring the canal into Cwmbran town centre. It will continue to work with Torfaen CBC on maintaining the area at Ty Coch and it has an excellent volunteer team working there.
The trust has also been working with Newport and Caerphilly councils to support them as owners of the derelict Crumlin Arm. The ongoing issues of the lack of water on the canal continued through the summer. MBACT raised the issue in May 2021, May 2022 and again in August 2022. Newport City and Caerphilly County Borough councils responded to its concerns. The issue and the councils’ responses were picked up by the local press. Although there have been no structural changes, the two councils have been more proactive in working together to try to improve water flow down the canal.
MBACT’s electric community boats operating from Goytre Wharf were extensively used in 2022 and continue to give the public a short experience of the canal. The boats’ operation is supported by a large team of volunteers.