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An update - Melksham Link Canal and river

14th November 2015 - an update to my Canal through Melksham article written some 5 years ago, prompted by a visit from an interested party, and bumping into (and chatting with) another interested party on the train.

Looking back five years, it's amazing how much has stood the test of time, and how much of the article remains current. Plans have developed since that time, and in specific relation to the Melksham Link we're much deeper into a formal planning phase.

Concerns remain about the level of boat traffic that will be generated. In one breath, it's sugegsted to me that the exercise is pointless because hardly anyone will want to come to Melksham, and in the next breath there's concern at the constant stirring up of silt in the river with boats passing all the time. I find it difficult to reconcile the two views, especially from the same source, and find myself wondering at whether both are alternative extreme worries and the actual truth is somewhere between - and in this case a happy medium. But I dont have the figures to know, and neither does anyone.

The river at Melksham rises in flood from time to time, usually in winter when there would be little boat traffic around. I'm asked to stress that word "usually" and the point was made to me that these times, when navigation would be closed, hadn't been factored into the economic case studies. Now - I've not read the studies, but I'm told they compare the Wilts and Berks to the Kennet and Avon which "is a canal so doens't get stopped in this way". Sorry - such stoppages happen in all sorts of place; I've persoally been stopped near Keynsham for several days because of high water, I know it happens at Newbury, and even on a normal camal such as the Oxford it can happen - as can the reverse throguh lack of water. I've, again, been held up at Napton on the Oxford and at Hatton on the Grand Union amongst others. There is a feast / famine of water consideration - but that's common to any canal and not a unique issue the Wilts and Berks would have. But I can't quantify the issue.

Picture were shown to me of a canal boat passing through detrious. Looked messy. Except I suspect that this was the natural detrious of autumn leaf fall - leaves fall into canals and rivers, navigable and unnavigable, and nature is rarely clean. Undoubytedy, there are concerns where people wash their boats down with detergent, empty 'dirty' water into the canal, etc ... yet these things have progressed so much and got much cleaner over the years; I'm unable to speak for current regulation levels except knowing from friends still boating that they are now much, much more resticted than they were 20 years aro. Further messyness that effects the (river) navigation comes from runoff from Clacker's Brook in Melksham, and from fields upriver on the Avon. Indeed, it's my understanding that the nature reserve already gets a dusty layer on it after a flood for which clearing help can be needed.

The river through Melksham isn't natural as it stands; the Melksham Gate, the old bridge, the bypass bridge have all been significant changes over the years, and indeed some rockwork has been introduced (I understand) to help add meanders / cut the speed of flow and so alter disposition. So whether you consider the river to be a "green field" or "Brown field" site is an interesting question. Certainly, arguments which say that no developemnt should be allowed because EU law does not allow any harming of the natural environment seem far-fetched to me. For wouldn't this just eliminate any development at all outside our towns?

But I do have to agree with points that say "the project team has never done a job quite like this before" and "there are unknowns" and that "not everything has been analysed". I agree the points - but I ask "who has done something like this before", I ask "when are there not any unknowns" and I ask "haven't we done enough consultation and analysis and isn't now the time to get on with it?". The project could so easily be kicked into the long grass of perpetual discussion, to the detriment of the gains that would come from it - and to the detriment of the town's development. We may not all agree with everything in the project but (like some of the recent bus decisions which I find peverse) we should in the end respect the views and decisions made by our councillors who, after all, we have elected to represent us and lobbied to inform of our cases.
(written 2015-11-14, updated 2015-11-15)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z521 - Navigable waterways - Canals, Rivers and Sea
  [4472] Rosslare to Fishguard - foot passenger on the ferry - (2015-04-24)
  [3998] Travelogue - from the Netherlands to London via Hook and Harwich - (2013-02-07)
  [3815] The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 2, TransWilts Rail, Wilts and Berks Canal - (2012-07-23)
  [3483] Canals, watererways in the Melksham area - (2011-10-16)
  [3482] Taking a boat down Caen Hill Locks - (2011-10-15)
  [3345] Cruising - (2011-07-04)
  [3282] The future of canal management and charities - Kennet and Avon Canal bias - (2011-05-08)
  [3266] Easter on the Canal - near Melksham, Wiltshire - (2011-04-26)
  [3183] Redevelopment on the banks of the Avon in Melksham - (2011-02-25)
  [3157] A new monopoly on the ferry to Northern Ireland - (2011-02-04)
  [3023] Autumn walk from Bowerhill - (2010-10-31)
  [2950] Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, turns first sod in Melksham Link Canal - (2010-09-09)
  [2807] Canal through Melksham - the options and issues - (2010-06-13)
  [2796] Sunday - waiting for the ferry. - (2010-06-06)
  [2730] Bird Watching on the Melksham Avon - (2010-04-18)
  [2588] Freddies Wood and the K and A Canal - (2010-01-17)
  [1986] Walk to Bowerhill - (2009-01-10)
  [1657] Farewell, Newcastle to Stavanger, Haugsund and Bergen - (2008-05-29)
  [820] Robert and William Whitworth - (2006-08-01)
  [793] The Wilts and Berks Canal - (2006-07-05)
  [776] Naming Rooms - (2006-06-24)
  [708] Linescapes of Mull - (2006-05-03)
  [598] Should we cruise around the world? - (2006-02-09)

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