20th Apr, 2019

Bid to open up River Avon to leisure boats between Stratford and Warwick receives second setback

Ian Hughes 12th Feb, 2019

A BID to make the River Avon navigable between Stratford and Warwick has again failed to win the backing of council chiefs.

Stratford District Council’s (SDC) ruling cabinet has decided not to support the proposal which could have led to the extension of the Avon Navigation Scheme from Alveston, north of Stratford, to the Grand Union Canal at Warwick.

It comes just days after Warwick District Council’s (WDC) ruling executive also decided not to support the plan.

Stratford, like Warwick, decided the economic case of an extension in terms of tourism potential, expected costs and environmental impact could not be justified following a study carried out on behalf of the two councils and the Avon Navigation Trust (ANT), which has been campaigning for three decades to see the river opened up to leisure boats.

The report estimated the total cost could be up to nearly £30million.

SDC deputy leader Mark Cargill said: “Unfortunately the business case for this proposal is weak with the environmental and capital costs outweighing the benefits. I would like to draw a line under this element of the proposal – it would be unfair that residents, landowners and businesses should have a cloud hanging over them in the potential for the scheme to be resurrected in the future.

His view was echoed in neighbouring Warwick.

WDC business spokesman Coun Noel Butler said: “Any project which has the potential to increase visitor numbers to our district is always worth exploring.

“Unfortunately, in this case the environmental and capital costs outweighed the benefits. We will however continue to work with SDC to improve public access along the river corridor between our two towns.”

ANT’s bid was inspired as far back as the reign of Charles I in the 17th century, who intended to optimise supply routes via rivers, although he never got as far as Warwick.

The trust has yet to comment on the decision of the respective councils.

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