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Hatherton Canal - Feasibility Study Report

by Ove Arup & Partners

Executive Summary

Ove Arup and Partners Limited (Arup) were commissioned by British Waterways to undertake a Tiered feasibility Study, on behalf of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (LHCRT) for the reinstatement of the Hatherton Canal.

It draws heavily upon Ordnance Survey maps and contoured plans, published records and a specific level of consultation with key authorities in order to formulate this report. In order to progress this project to the next stage in its development it will be necessary to undertake detailed topographical, geotechnical and hydrological surveys and studies that will be able to define the scheme proposals in more detail.

The canal is currently in water for only the first two miles from Calf Heath, though only a very short section up to the marina is currently navigable. Much of the remainder of the canal alignment has now been in-filled and lost to re-development. However, both the South Staffordshire Council and Cannock Chase District Council have identified a protection line through their administrative areas to allow the future reinstatement of the Hatherton Canal, though there are still some major obstacles to be overcome on the route i.e. the M6, the Rugeley to Walsall Railway Line and the A5 as well as certain ecological issues at the Cannock Extension Canal.

The study has been undertaken using an agreed two-tiered approach in order to maintain a program of deliverables that will enable BW and the LHCRT to take this scheme forward to the next stage of their proposal for the restored canal. In tier 1 we identified the essential engineering parameters, the water resource demands, potential water supplies and resource management aspects using historical results from the BW computer based model for boat movements and economic benefits. In the tier 2 work we have reviewed and commented on issues such as the environment, planning issues, heritage and landscape.

The study has identified that there are 5 specific locations along the currently defined route which will need closer investigation to fully identify the engineering required to enable the canal to pass these complex locations: -

  1. The crossing of the Straight Mile and the M6 Motorway (chainages 0+600 and 0+800) that is likely to be affected by the Highways Agency’s proposals for the widening of the M6 motorway or the development of a new M6 Expressway.
  2. The length adjacent to the Severn Trent lagoons (Chainage 3+800 to 4+100) needs further investigation in terms of how the canal interacts with the STW outfall and how the Ridings Brook crosses the alignment.
  3. The area between Walkmill Lane (Chainage 4+700) and the Walsall to Rugeley Railway (Chainage 5+500). The main issues in this length are the interaction between the canal and the Wyrley Brook, and the crossing of the two water courses beneath the M6 Toll motorway.
  4. The area between the Walsall to Rugeley Railway (Chainage 5+500) and the eastern end of the David Suchet Tunnel where the Wash Brook passes back under the A5 (Chainage 6+200). Again the issue of how the canal interacts with the Wash Brook needs to be studied, as well as how the two water courses pass through the David Suchet Tunnel.
  5. The crossing of the Wash Brook at chainage 6+640.

From desk studies and consultations with the Environment Agency it is considered that there are a number of potential sources of water supply that could help to feed the restored canal the most likely of these being the shallow aquifers near to the M6 Toll Road in the area of the Wyrley Estate.

However there are other potential sources all of which will need more detailed examination and testing in order that such applications may be made to the appropriate authorities to use these resources.

In addition to the engineering issues it is considered inevitable that there will be some short term impact to and loss of habitats and species along the route. The most critical of these impacts is that of the Floating Water Plantain in the Cannock Extension Canal. However, it is considered that the restored canal will also provide additional habitat and could also afford additional environmental improvements that should more than compensate for what may be lost in the shorter term.

As part of the study a cost benefit assessment has been undertaken to estimate the number of full time equivalent jobs the scheme is likely to generate. This study determined that the construction of the canal is likely to lead, after adjustments for leakage, deadweight and displacement effects, to the direct creation of 14 FTE jobs. Operational, indirect and induced effects will lead to the formation of a further 11 jobs. Adding construction jobs of 134, leads to a sum total employment creation from the scheme of approximately 159 FTE jobs.

The estimated cost of the scheme is £48.7 million, with an estimated risk contingency allowance of £3.5 million.

In conclusion, it is felt that there is a definable and feasible route for the restored Hatherton Canal between Calf Heath and the Cannock Extension Canal. However, this study has identified some engineering and environmental challenges that will need to be addressed during the future detailed design stage in order to enable the scheme to be realised.

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Hatherton Canal Restoration Feasibilty Study Drawings and Maps

Hatherton Canal Restoration Feasibility Study Report

Supplementary Feasibility Report by Atkins Limited

Please note that the Arup Report sections 3.25 - 3.29 (and any cross-references thereto) and Drawing nos.13 - 16 relate to former proposals to connect with Grove Basins on the Cannock Extension Canal. Due to the burden of environmental constraints on the latter, this proposal is no longer considered viable and has been formally replaced by new proposals defined below. Thus those sections and drawings should now be disregarded.

In February 2009 a Supplementary Feasibility Report by Atkins Limited on an alternate route to connect with the northern Birmingham Canal Navigations via the former Lord Hay Branch on the Wyrley & Essington Canal was published. This report acknowledges its dependence on the Arup Report and Drawings in other respects.

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