he Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust aims to reopen the Newport branch of the Shropshire Union Canal abandoned in 1944 and link it through to Shrewsbury. Some work was actually done in the 1960s when restoration appeared possible, but for some reason it was never completed and the task is now immeasurably more difficult.
One foreseeable problem is the loss of water from the main line of the Shroppie that would be caused by re-opening the flight of seventeen locks that lead down to Newport. This loss could be overcome by modern-day techniques such as back-pumping but the Trust has instead come up with the idea of an inclined plane.
Ever since the success of the Falkirk Wheel, restoration groups seem to have felt the need for "iconic" structures to act as figureheads for their campaigns. Personally I'd prefer to navigate through 17 locks (open all hours, no charge payable) to an inclined plane (operation restricted, advance booking, fee payable?) and it seems I'm not alone.
The Trust was due to publicise its plans at the Norbury Canal Festival, but local boaters were leafleted beforehand, from an unknown source (which I think is actually illegal), drumming up opposition and inviting us to sign a petition during the Festival. Its not so much the plane that's the focus of dissent, more the associated access road, car parking, traffic and the "200 boat marinas" that are part of the scheme. I'd have liked to have found out more, but whenever I wandered past the Trust's stall it was unstaffed and there was no sign of anyone collecting signatures for the "antis".
I'm all for re-opening the branch and wish the Trust well, but I think the Inclined Plane is a mistake. Norbury Junction is a beautiful, quiet and peaceful place (except perhaps on a Sunday afternoon when crowds gather outside the Junction Inn after a good lunch). The Plane, the road, the car park and the marinas would destroy this. Its in my back yard -and I don't want it!