6:00pm Wednesday 27th March 2013
By Mid Devon Star Reporter
WORKS to begin repairing the Grand Western Canal near Tiverton have got underway thanks to a £10,000 grant from a local councillor's budget.
Devon county councillor Des Hannon put forward the cash from a pot distributed among councillors following the sale of Exeter International Airport in 2007.
The county council recently allocated £3 million towards the project, although the bulk of this will not be available until the bidding process for contractors is finished in time for major civil engineering works to begin on site in June.
In the meantime, Cllr's Hannon's contribution has allowed contracting firm Jacobs to begin preparatory works around the area of the breach at Halberton, near Tiverton, which collapsed in heavy flooding in November last year.
Engineers have been commissioned to undertake research to investigate the canal's complicated hydrology and decide what changes tare needed.
Computer modelling will help decide what must be done to avoid future breaches whilst ensuring that the works do not cause problems downstream.
Cllr Hannon, who represents Tiverton East and is chairman of the council's Canal Advisory Committee, said: "I was here as the water tumbled through the breach.
“By the end of that day we were already working out how to put things right, so it's great to revisit this spot, where before there was raging water, and see the first signs of progress.
"Our new visitor centre will be officially opened on April 7 at the basin in Tiverton and I'm really looking forward to being there. “For me it's a symbolic turning point. It shows everyone that our canal is still beautiful and still in business, welcoming visitors at the start of the tourist season."
Major works are due to start on the Halberton embankment in June and are planned to finish in time for the canal's 200th anniversary celebrations in 2014.
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