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 robert.lloyd01@walesonline.co.uk
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, put ting 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 travelling 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 struc ture 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 which 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.”

Action to restore water feed to the Tennant Canal.

There are now two steps to get water into the canal, both could be accomplished in a day or two and at almost zero cost.

Tennant Canal-focussed session took place on Friday, June 10th at the Driving Range in Aberdulais. TCA Position Statement (PDF 1.7MB) Minutes from the Meeting (PDF 138 KB)

June 18th, 2022 – Action on restoring Water feed to the canal summary by Rick Hughes of the TCA.

The Tennant Canal Association (TCA) has been formed to take action where needed for the benefit of the Tennant Canal.

For some weeks we have been working with various parties, authorities, and engineers to identify and evaluate options that could be used as a temporary water supply for the canal.
Last week we convened a meeting that included the Canal owners – Port Tennant Company (PTC), the management company (Leeder), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Members of the Senedd, CADW, NPT council, local councillors, and canal experts.

Prior to the meeting we developed and provided a consultation document of options …… several have now been discounted either due to cost, or NRW’s position.

There are now two steps to get water into the canal, both could be accomplished in a day or two and at almost zero cost.

As an interest for this group … the consultation document is attached, (doc not yet made available) the ‘discounted options; removed to clarify the two simple steps.

The first step – clearing the feeder channel is a routine maintenance task that is the responsibility of Leeder, and we are asking them to clear the channel. (picture of the channel below)

The damaged Tennant canal supply Weir at Aberdulais 31-05-2022
The damaged Tennant canal supply Weir at Aberdulais 31-05-2022 (Picture from STTC Facebook site)

The use of the existing culvert is not much more than opening a valve, and clearing away some stones – the caveat is that NRW has to approve its use …. they have agreed to consider licensing this.

It was purpose-designed, constructed & used as a temporary supply previously and we are using this as justification for its re-use.

A Technical working group will be set up (as soon as NRW can support it) to consider re-use permits, assessments, etc. There are lots of obstacles that can be put in the way, and we are clearing them by evidence, justification, and discussion.

The big issue for the TCA is cost … we have no money to pay for any of this, so where possible we use evidence to justify acceptance on points – so far we have had success.
Please do consider joining the TCA we need your support.

Tennant Canal Association – Newly formed The Tennant Canal Association CIC (TCA), a “not for profit company”, is awaiting the development of its official website.
https://tennantcanal.wales/

The Cadoxton Culvert

The Culvert flows from the Hills above Neath Golf Club down through Cadoxton Park under the Main Road and Stanley Place before finally making its way to the Tennant Canal.

Looking at the many maps on the area it seems that at one time the culvert ran under the Tennant Canal towards the River Neath. Fortunately, work to divert this culvert into the canal with freshwater was completed before the Tennant became abandoned by the owners.

Natural Resources Wales holds all the cards?

No application has been received to construct or reconstruct the Aberdulais Weir and return freshwater supply to the Tennant Canal.

In 2018, large water pumps were installed which fed into the canal to improve water flow then in early July 2021
In 2018, large water pumps were installed that fed into the canal to improve water flow and were removed in early July 2021.

May 18, 2021

Natural Resource Wales Head of Operations, Martyn Evans in a reply to Stephen Kinnock MP on behalf of a constituent says “no application has been received to construct or reconstruct the Aberdulais Weir” which he admits is vital in providing water to the Tennant Canal or has Mr. Evans puts it “historically, one of the mechanisms to ensure there was water in the canal”. By historically, I’m sure Mr. Evans meant to say is the River Neath has been supplying water to the canal for nearly 200 YEARS!.

Tennant Canal at Jersey Marine in May 2021 and then July 2021.
Tennant Canal at Jersey Marine in May 2021 and then July 2021.

He also added that “any application to repair or re-build the Weir would need to be accompanied by a flood consequences assessment” but the Weir has been supplying the canal with water since 2008? This quango NRW is causing environmental problems all over Wales acting with authoritarian control over organisations and individuals. Many who have experienced this behavior think the NRW is not fit for purpose.

The Tennant Canal
The Tennant Canal at Jersey Marine on 17th June 2021

What is certain is that Natural Resource Wales seems to hold all the cards when it comes to any negotiations or permissions, despite repeated warnings the damaged Weir at Aberdulais is causing serious low water conditions on the Tennant Canal. It’s unforgivable that NRW is just giving excuses and not in urgent talks with the current owners on an emergency plan to get the Weir (the Tennant canals’ vital source of water) within the river at Aberdulais in Neath – FIXED!

Stephen Kinnock
Member of Parliament for Aberavon

From Natural Resource Wales to Mr. Stephen Kinnock MP, Member of Parliament for Aberavon.
18 May 2021

Dear Stephen,
Re: Tennant Canal, Aberdulais, Neath Port Talbot

Thank you for your inquiry about the Tennant canal on behalf of your constituent.

Your constituent recently contacted us directly to express his concerns about the water level in the Tennant Canal. As a result, one of our officers contacted your constituent to explain what we are doing in response to his concerns. We have carried out visual monitoring of the water level within the canal and whilst the level had dropped, we did not assess this to be significant and saw no evidence of fish or other wildlife in distress. Water levels have subsequently increased as a result of a wetter period of weather following a prolonged dry spell.

It may be helpful to explain that the situation at Aberdulais where the Tennant canal begins is complex. The Tennant canal is in private ownership. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) does not have any direct involvement in managing the water levels within the canal. Historically, one of the mechanisms to ensure there was water in the canal, was a weir within the river Neath at Aberdulais. This helped direct water to the canal via sluice gates.

Water is being pumped from the River Neath to improve water flow in the Tennant canal via sluice gates.
Water is being pumped from the River Neath to improve flow in the Tennant canal via sluice gates. Pictured 2020.

However, the weir partially collapsed, and it is no longer effective in directing water to the canal, so this method of managing the water level in the canal is not used.

We understand that the owners of the canal, the Port Tennant (Canal) Company Ltd, in conjunction with industrial abstraction users, were looking into having the weir rebuilt so that the water level in the canal could once again be topped up using water from the River Neath using the sluice gates. In the interim, the company has used pumps to transfer water from the river to the canal when needed.

In 2018, large water pumps were installed which fed into the canal to improve water flow.
In 2018, large water pumps were installed which fed into the canal to improve water flow.

It is important to note that the Aberdulais area suffers from significant periodic fluvial flooding. Any application to construct (or reconstruct) a structure would need to be accompanied by a flood consequences assessment. We have not received an application, or pre-application consultation, for such proposals. We have therefore not had any involvement in the decision-making process of the private landowners, or other interested parties, in deciding whether to rebuild the weir or not. NRW does not own or hold responsibility for assets in the area, including the sluice gates associated with the weir, which remain in private ownership.

There have been some significant changes to the management of the canal recently and we are aware of the concern this is causing. We are currently looking to understand the role we could play in advising the private landowners and other interested parties. We continue to respond to residents’ concerns, and we will periodically conduct visual monitoring to assess any impact that these changes may be having on the water level within the canal and of course, respond to any further incident reports in this regard.

I hope this helps to explain our position on the matter. Should your constituent wish to discuss any of his concerns further, he can contact Selby Le Roux within our Neath Port Talbot Environment Team at Selby.LeRoux@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely
Martyn Evans
Head of Operations
South West Wales Pennaeth Gweithrediadau De Orllewin Cymru
Natural Resource Wales

The Jersey Marine Pumps fall Silent.

The Tennant Canal pumping station at Jersey Marine ends all operations to industry at Baglan Bay.

The Jersey Marine pump-house as ended operations after years of supplying significant quantities of water from the Port Tennant Canal Company to industry at Baglan Bay. The Baglan Bay Power LTD closed on 24 March 2021 the large pumps have finally fallen silent. The good news is that the canal may retain more water for longer. But it has been confirmed by the owners it was the ‘Tennant Canal’s only form of funding so the future of the Canal is in serious doubt’.

The Jersey Marine pump-house.

The Tennant Canal supplied water from the Jersey Marine pumphouse to the BP Chemical Plant at Baglan Bay until 2004 sadly following the BP Oil Refinery at nearby Llandarcy – another of the Tennant Canal’s previous customers – into the industrial history books.
Please read: The Future of the Tennant Canal is in serious doubt!

The Tennant Canal has been affected by Flooding Incident in Skewen.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) confirmed the Tennant Canal had been polluted “from mine water”.

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) confirmed the Tennant Canal had been polluted “from mine water”.

Multi-Agency Response to Flooding Incident in Skewen, Neath

Posted by Aled Lewis on 22 Jan 2021

Emergency services and other agencies remain at the scene of a flooding incident in Skewen.

Residents from around an additional 20 houses were evacuated at around 9pm last night.

Chief Supt Trudi Meyrick said: “We would like to thank residents and the wider community for their co-operation in this difficult time for them all.

The Tennant Canal has been affected by pollution.
The Tennant Canal has been affected by pollution from the mine water.

“We appreciate people are eager to get back to their homes and we are working with partners to allow this to happen as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, we ask people to please be patient as their safety is our top priority.

“We are also grateful for the support from the local community and we will work with residents and partners to coordinate offers of help but at this time we would again remind people that it is essential to stay away from the area.”

Karen Jones, Chief Executive of Neath Port Talbot Council said: “Council officers remained at the scene throughout last night to monitor water levels and be on hand to support residents. Residents affected by the floods at Skewen or anyone who evacuated and has not yet made contact with us can call the council’s helpline on 01639 686868. We have also published a dedicated web page containing information, updates, and advice at http://www.npt.gov.uk/skewen”

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Roger Thomas, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said, “Our officers remain on scene and continue to support the multi-agency response to this incident.

“Currently, we have specialist appliances working to pump water away from the area.

“Whilst we understand that this is a difficult time for those affected, and the wider community, we urge you to continue to keep away from the scene until such time as it is deemed safe for residents to return.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and support our partner agencies and those affected over the next few days.”

Martyn Evans, Head of South West Operations, Natural Resources Wales, said:

“Natural Resources Wales has officers deployed to Skewen to advise on how to minimise the risk of pollution to watercourses in the area, as well as investigate the extent of any pollution and impacts on the Tennant Canal and River Neath.

“Tennant Canal has been affected by pollution from the mine water and our monitoring and investigative work will continue to determine the extent of that over the days ahead.

“We have also carried out tests on other watercourses in the vicinity of the incident. Results indicate there has been no significant impact on those at present.”

The cause of the flood remains under investigation by the Coal Authority.

The Future of the Tennant Canal is in serious doubt!

We and the Tennant family are as concerned as you for the future of the Canal.

Tennant Canal at Jersey Marine in May 2021 and then July 2021.
Tennant Canal at Jersey Marine in May 2021 and then July 2021.

Email received in response to the news that the Tennant canal’s last source of funding, the Baglan Power LTD and Group of Companies went into liquidation on March 24, 2021. Baglan group of companies liquidated. The Port Tennant Company has been supplying significant quantities of water from the canal to this group using large pumps near Jersey Marine since 2013.

Tennant Canal at Jersey Marine Village.
Tennant Canal at Jersey Marine Village May 02, 2021.

From Leeder Property Consultants LTD for the Tennant Family Estates, raising serious concerns about the future of the Tennant canal.

Wed 21/04/2021 16:03

Thank you for your email. We are fully aware of the position.

We and the Tennant family are as concerned as you for the future of the Canal, with the power station in Baglan Bay probably closing and being its only source of income the future of the Canal is in serious doubt. We and the family are currently looking at other ways to try to fund the Canal.

Regards,

Ross Williams

Leeder
Property Consultants Ltd.
26 Walter Road
Swansea
SA1 5NN

The Fen Raft Spider discovered in the Tennant Canal.

Fish-eating spider invades Wales.

Source: BBC Wales
Thursday, 14 August 2003

The discovery of a colony of large fish-eating spiders in a Swansea canal has excited nature experts.

Countryside Council for Wales spokesman David Painter said: “Up until now, the fen raft spider was only found at UK sites, both in eastern England. “Finding a population of this size in Wales is extremely good news,” he said.

Michael Clark, of the South and West Wales Wildlife Trust, first discovered an adult fen raft spider on weeds that were floating on the Tennant Canal at Pant-y-Sais, near Jersey Marina, making this the first Welsh record of this rare spider.

Since this first discovery, more than 20 spiders have been found, some of them with young.

The fen raft spider has a black or brown body nearly an inch long, white or cream stripes down its sides, and hairs on its legs that allow it to glide across the water’s surface to grab prey. Its name comes from the way it leans over pools on a plant and dangles its front legs on the waters’ surface to pick up vibrations from approaching prey – mainly pond-skaters and dragonfly larvae.

It can even catch small fish such as sticklebacks as well as tadpoles.

Mr. Painter, CCW’s Warden for Crymlyn Bog and Pant-y-Sais Fen, said: “This is an exciting find. “Up until now, the fen raft spider was only found on two sites throughout the UK – both in eastern England. So, finding a population of this size in Wales is extremely good news.

It is extraordinary that such a large spider has not been noticed before!

We will now start to survey the site and other similar sites in the area – including Crymlyn Bog – and we expect to find more. The canal has been traditionally managed by the Tennant Canal Company who have helped us survey the area for new sightings of this rare spider.

This endangered species was first discovered in 1956 and has long been thought to be restricted to two sites at Lopham and Redgrave Fens on the border between Suffolk and Norfolk and the Pevensey Levels in Sussex. It is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and is thought to be under threat of extinction in western and central-southern Europe whilst remaining well established in Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

CCW is the Government’s statutory adviser on sustaining natural beauty, wildlife, and the opportunity for outdoor enjoyment throughout Wales and its inshore waters.

Source: BBC Wales

Fish-eating Fen Raft spider invades Wales.
Fen Raft Spider.

The spider is incredibly rare and protected under schedule 5 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.