Move to start work on the waterfront

PLEASURE craft may be allowed to use Spalding’s Coronation Channel as part of a grand plan to open up the district’s waterways for tourism.

Currently the Environment Agency only allows Spalding Water Taxi to use the Channel but that may change, according to Erin Witcomb-Vos, the Environment Agency’s partnership manager for Fens Waterways Link.

The long-term aim of the Link is to connect the cathedral cities of Lincoln, Peterborough and Ely.

New water-based developments are suggested for Spalding, Crowland, Boston and Ramsey to bring economic benefits to each place through a boost to tourism.

Spalding Waterspace Study – focusing chiefly on The Welland and The Glen – was published last year by a partnership including the Environment Agency, Lincolnshire County Council and South Holland District Council.

The study on Spalding and district outlines plans ranging from building marinas to creating new riverside paths – and from raising the heights of bridges to encouraging businesses to make more of their waterfront locations.

Ms Witcomb-Vos and Candy Reed, the Environment Agency’s Lincolnshire Waterways team leader, gave a briefing on the Fens Waterways Link and Spalding Waterspace Study to councillors on Spalding Town Forum on Wednesday.

The Environment Agency wants to set up a new ‘Waterspace Forum’ in Spalding to help drive forward some of the waterspace study ideas and to focus on so-called “quick wins” – projects that can be more easily achieved.

Coun Roger Perkins wanted to know why a dam couldn’t be built across The Wash as an alternative to developing the inland waterways network.

Ms Witcomb-Vos said that was “a legal impossibility” because of legislation to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats but it is also prohibited by the massive cost.

She said as part of the Fens Waterways Link, a barrier is being built across the tidal section of The Witham in Boston and that is costing £85million for just 25 metres.

Ms Witcom-Vos said boaters wanting to navigate from Lincoln to Ely have to follow river networks in and out of The Wash and they don’t like to do that.

Spalding Town Forum agreed to look in detail at the Spalding Waterspace Study before deciding what to do about forming or joining a waterspace forum.

John Honnor, who represents Spalding and District Civic Society on the town forum, said it would be nice to see something come of the study rather than it disappear into the bottom drawer.