The council has today backed plans for a new High Speed Canal Network which is being dubbed HS2O.
The new £6.8million network will cut the time it takes to navigate the Trent and Mersey canal from 26 days to 17 days, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
David Watters from the company behind the scheme explains:
“A big part of the time it takes to navigate the canal is because of the locks installed along its length. These locks are necessary to step up or down through the gradient of the surrounding landscapes. HS20 will introduce two new straight through canals that are sloped through the landscape to provide two high speed canal routes with no locks in between. 2 new 1,000,000 gallon lagoons will be constructed at each end of the canal to collect the high speed water and turn it around onto the opposite route.”
A Council spokesman added:
“We see HS20 as being a major infrastructure project for the region and look forward to welcoming travellers who will be able to reach further down in to the county in a shorter period of time. Stone has a rich history with the canal and this additional traffic should be welcomed by the towns folk. The initial consultation has identified that there may be the need to make compulsory land and house purchase and we’re currently identifying the best route and who will be affected. At the moment we need to work out whether to run the canal to the north of the A34 or the south.”
The existing canal network is limited to a maximum speed of 6mph but the proposal is for the new network to almost double this to 10mph. This speed increase with their being no locks are the main reason for the reduction in navigation times.
Waterways bird network has raised concerns about the danger that the high speed route will pose to local wildlife. Emma Butters says:
“Although the new canal network will be great for boaters we must consider the change of pace that the waterways wildlife will see. There will be an expectation for boats to be travelling at a particular speed and therefore we’re looking at ways that we can introduce the high speed traffic with the minimal impact. We’re running a trial at the moment using an old life boat and a stretch of water to see the outcome. Unfortunately at the moment we are finding mallards to be the least responsive to the changes in speed. We are working with specialists in Peking, China to see what can be done with the ducks.”