Sankey Canal meeting | HBC newsroom

A meeting of interested parties in the Sankey Canal water supply issue has taken place.

Attending were Halton MP Derek Twigg,  Andy Carter, MP for Warrington South, Cllr Mike Wharton, Leader of Halton Borough Council, Stephen Young, Chief Executive of Halton Borough Council, Professor Steven  Broomhead MBE, Warrington Borough Council Chief Executive, and Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, along with representatives from the Environment Agency, Peel Holdings and United Utilities.

The  purpose of the meeting was to seek a solution to the water supply issue for the section of the Sankey Canal that runs through Halton and Warrington.

Details were given on how Halton and Warrington Borough Councils have been working together over many years to try to address the water supply issue and how many options have been explored. The meeting heard that the only viable option currently available for the canal is to pump water into it from the River Mersey from a point close to the Fiddlers Ferry Marina.

Officers from Warrington have been working up a scheme that would use the building that previously acted as a pump house for the Fiddlers Ferry Power Station.

Peel Holdings, current owners of the pumping facility, told the meeting that they would draw up a licence agreement allowing Warrington Council to install a permanent solution and equipment on their land. This agreement would also give the Council appropriate access rights to the site.

Warrington will now finalise the plans and come forward with detailed cost estimates.

There are, however, other tasks that will need to be carried out in order for the proposed solution to work. It was made clear to those at the meeting that the amount of water that will be able to be drawn into the canal will be less than previously, when it was pumped in via the power station. Therefore, the canal will need to be made more watertight than that it was before and funding will have to be found to do this.

A significant section of the canal at the rear of the power station also poses a challenge as it has been colonised with reeds that impede water flow.

To address these issues a technical working group will be brought together, the work of which will be overseen by Professor Broomhead and Mr Young. Technical officers from both councils will work with other key partners such as Peel Holdings, the Environment Agency and United Utilities.

“The situation with regards to water in the Sankey Canal affects both us and Halton and it is therefore essential that we work together on the solution. That is why we need a technical working group that can carry forward the work that the Sankey Canal Steering group has been doing over the years,” said Professor Broomhead.

Cllr Mike Wharton explained: “There is no simple solution to a water supply for the canal in Halton. The canal was not built as two separate entities, it is one canal. Therefore we have to work closely with our partners in Warrington to try to resolve this matter. On the face of it we have a solution but there is more work to be done.

“We are facing considerable budget pressures and, therefore, a clear understanding as to what the ongoing revenue costs are going to be is going to be essential. We have already identified £500,000 of funding for the canal but that will not do all of the works that are required and we will have explore all of the options with regards to external funding.”

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