Meeting Held to Save Canal.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save the Tennant Canal.

Meeting Held to Save Canal.

Meeting Held to Save Canal.

By Robert Lloyd Print Contact Editor
Source: South Wales Evening Post (Print Addition)

June 25th, 2022

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save the Tennant Canal, which runs from Neath to Port Tennant, have organised a meeting which was attended by representatives of Natural Resources Wales (NRW) which has responsibility for all rivers and waterways in Wales.

The meeting, which was chaired by Regional Senedd member Altaf Hussain, was convened by the newly formed Tennant Canal Association (TCA) which is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company set up by members of a 1,000-strong Facebook group dedicated to saving the canal which has no source of water at the moment.

The meeting was also attended by David Rees, MS for Aberavon, and Regional MS Sioned Williams. Others included representatives of heritage body Cadw and Neath Port Talbot Council.

TCA Chairman Rick Hughes told the meeting that water levels in the canal were low and dropping, putting at risk the wildlife that lives on it. These include swans, ducks, otters, and fish. The canal also abuts the SSSI at Crymlyn Bog which is home to the rare Fen Raft Spider.

He said that since the 250-year-old weir in the River Neath was damaged and partly swept away during a storm in 2015, the canal had been unable to get water via sluice gates at Aberdulais because water levels in the river without the weir have been too low.

It acts as a mini-dam to increase the depth of water behind it.

Until March last year, water was pumped into the canal by its owners, the Port Tennant Company, in order to sell water to the Calon Energy Plant at Baglan. Water was pumped to the plant through pipes traveling below the River Neath.

But the closure of the plant meant that there was no further income or commercial use for the canal and as a result, the canal has had to rely on rainwater to fill up.

Mr. Hughes, who was a member of the Facebook group, said that the canal would normally be around five feet deep but water levels had dropped which put the whole structure of the canal at risk.

He said: “The canal consists of earth walls which are held up by the pressure of the water. Without enough water, the walls will fall in and the canal will just become a muddy ditch.”

The meeting heard that a number of options were available to get water into the canal quickly.

Longer-term, the association wanted to see the weir restored to its pre-2015 condition.

Mr. Hughes said that the most effective quick-fix was for NRW to allow the opening up of the control valves in a culvert that was created below the road bridge carrying the A465.
This was installed when the road was being built to enable water to get into the canal.

Once these valves are opened, just near the confluence of the Dulais and Neath rivers, water can travel into the channel providing water once more into the canal.
He said that this option needed little work and would cost almost nothing.

It was not a long-term solution, which would need to be considered in due course but would solve the immediate problem of getting water into the canal to save the wildlife and also prevent the canal from collapsing in on itself.

Martyn Evans, who is NRW operations manager for South West Wales, said that this option would be considered and he suggested a further meeting between themselves and representatives of TCA.

Mr. Hughes said later that he was in touch with NRW about getting this meeting as soon as possible.

He added: “With the current hot, dry weather we do not have time on our side.

“We must get water back into that canal and I am glad that NRW is prepared to consider a quick solution which will give us time to look at longer-term options.”
Dr. Hussain thanked everyone who attended and said that he wanted to see those valves opened up as soon as possible.

He added: “Our children will never forgive us if we allow this canal and its wildlife to die. It is a wonderful asset with great potential for heritage and tourism purposes.

“I was heartened by the presence of Neath Port Talbot Council and Cadw officers as we all need to work together to save the canal for future generations.”

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