Boost to London's canals in bid to remove waste-freight from roads

British Waterways and Transport for London have joined forces to try and remove a significant number of freight lorries from congested roads and move the cargo to London's canals.

The work will also regenerate much of the London canal network.

The two groups have jointly pledged £1.6 million to revive commercial traffic on the canals and work will begin this week to build a series of wharves on the Grand Union Canal in west London. The first, at Willesden Junction will allow barges laden with household waste to unload at Powerday's planned recycling plant relieving the road's of lorries full of waste.

"Waterways are playing an increasingly important part in thelife of the capital. They are a tourist attraction and community resource, a focus for regeneration and a valuable wildlife habitat. We believe they also have the potential to work for their original purpose and offer a quieter, cleaner and more fuel efficient alternative to road haulage," said Mike Bensted, British waterways' director for London.

A number of key infrastructure projects will be boosted by the funding including:

  • a new canal turning point at Stockley Park near West Drayton;
  • dredging bridge holes and problem areas to accommodate freight barges and improve the canal infrastructure for existing boaters; and
  • a major study by Peter Brett Associates on the freight potential of west London's canal network, including business opportunities, locations for modern wharf sites and other recommendations for reviving commercial canal traffic.

    Peter Hendy, director of surface transport for TFL said: "London's waterway network has been a vastly underused commodity for many years and, like much of the rest of the UK transport network, has suffered from under investment. TFL, in partnership with British Waterways, are hoping to demonstrate the potential for transporting freight around the capital, taking some of the pressure off the hard-pressed road and rail networks.

    By David Hopkins

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