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March 3, 2012 / landscapeiskingston

UK Parliament debates financial and ecological benifits of Waterways

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Richard Benyon): The MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, is well known for having a keen interest in the heritage and history of this country, and combines this passion with representing with pride the constituency that has more miles of canals than any other in England. I take similar pride in the canal-the Kennet and Avon canal in west Berkshire – It was restored with the hard work and emotional capital of local people, with the backing of British Waterways and lottery money, …. That has created an asset of unique value.

The hon. Gentleman talked about the added value of the canals. We must not be concerned purely with quality of life and recreational value; they are of course a financial asset because of what they provide through tourism and the local economy, particularly in rural areas such as mine. The hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch Meg Hillier feels passionately about the Regent’s canal, just as so many of us feel passionately about our local canals. I have learned from the canal in her part of London the ability of canals to unlock regeneration, and to be a focal point for the local community in a way we cannot just ignore.

Jeremy Lefroy: The Minister agrees that the 23 canal reservoirs up and down the country are also of enormous value to this country. Many of them provide excellent wildlife reserves and, hence, recreation, and are assets for our tourist industry.

Richard Benyon:  Sir John Lawton is about to report on work commissioned by the last Government that this Government firmly supports. It examines the coherence between different natural sites around the country, and looks into corridors of biodiversity that can flow and allow species to increase in population in different parts of the country. Canals are a vital link in our natural environment.

07 July 2010

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