Concerns for canal which was once pristine
Twm Owen, local democracy reporter
The once “pristine” water of a section of canal running through Cwmbran is covered in a blanket of green, prompting concerns for the future of the waterway.
Boats can travel nearly 36 miles along the canal from Brecon to Five Locks at Cwmbran, and it has been a long-term ambition for local authorities to eventually re-open the route to Newport – though the cost of this is estimated at hundreds of millions of pounds and has proved prohibitive.
But retired engineer Roger Leaman, who lives alongside the unnavigable lower section of the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal, at Ty Coch Lane on the southern side of Cwmbran, said he is concerned as the water is covered by overgrown vegetation.
He said the restored sections at Edlogan Wharf, at Sebastapool, and Goytre Wharf, are an example of how the canal can look.
“This canal used to be pristine,” he said. “As a child I remember workmen, we used to call them council men, would be stood on the banks raking it. They would throw out long rakes and drag up all the weeds, they would do it every year without fail and the water was beautiful just like it is now at Edlogan Wharf.”
“Plants have grown all over the canal and it would be nice to see the water,” added Mr Leaman, 82, who has contacted his Torfaen county councillors about the issue: “I can’t walk so far nowadays but hundreds of people walk and cycle along the canal here.”
Two Locks councillor Peter Jones chaired the council’s cleaner communities committee during the 2017 to 2022 council term which produced a report on the “development of a strategic vision” for the canal.
As a result the council, last autumn, appointed a canal officer to coordinate efforts by it and partners to try and develop the attraction and seek grant funding.
Councillors are due to be updated on progress made since at a meeting on Monday, September 26.
Cllr Jones said he shared concerns about the condition of the canal.
“We all want to see improvements to the canal,” he said.
“This part of the canal used to be used a lot for fishing but even that is difficult now with all the weeds.”
His ward colleague Cllr Colette Thomas said she is looking forward to seeing the recently appointed officer’s report.
“I hope to see some progress on the action plan,” she said. “The council has appointed an officer we’ve got to give her a chance to come back and I’m hoping to see some improvements on the canal.”
Glandwr Cymru, the Canal and River Trust in Wales, only manages the canal as far as Bridge 47/Solomon’s Bridge near Pontypool. Torfaen Borough Council was approached for comment.
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