Memorandum submitted by Michael Connarty
MP (FCS 7)
Millennium Canal Project, Scotland
Forth and Clyde Canal: Outstanding Works at Grangemouth
I commend your Committee's decision to investigate
the Millennium Canal project, which has resulted in the re-opening
of the Forth and Clyde canal from Grangemouth in my constituency
of Falkirk East through to the Clyde basin at Clydebank. I note
that you also visited the site of the Falkirk Wheel that will
link the Forth and Clyde canal to the Union canal, which also
runs through Falkirk East on its way to Edinburgh.
I am certain your committee saw much to impress
them. However I know your schedule did not allow the committee
to visit the Grangemouth end of the canal. As the local Member
of Parliament I am aware that the people of Grangemouth and the
communities on the South side of the River Forth are concerned
that much of the original promise of the canal project still requires
to be delivered for their communities. I would have hoped that
Falkirk Council would have transmitted the concerns of the local
people in Falkirk East to your Committee when you met them. I
will set them out below as a formal submission to your Committee
1. The original route of the canal to the
present Boating Club on the River Carron, East of the M9 motorway
at Grangemouth was not available to be re-opened. The new route
linked the canal to the River Carron, West of the M9 motorway.
The result was a final Lock allowing access to the River Carron
at a very remote point on the river and not in Grangemouth as
was originally considered. The lock is called Lock Number (2)
Two, which I believe reflects this fact.
2. The community of Grangemouth believe
the canal project will be unfinished, and the town of Grangemouth,
where the original plans for the canal were proposed based on
Port Dundas, will have been let down by British Waterways Scotland
if the infrastructure promised at Grangemouth is not forthcoming
in the future.
Specifically, the old Town Docks which were
originally part of the canal end at Grangemouth and would have
been re-opened as a marina if the original route had been followed
should be linked to the River Carron by a Lock. I understand that
the Docks and the surrounding buildings have been offered to British
Waterways Scotland on a 100 year lease at a peppercorn rent by
Forth Ports plc. There is also no de-masting facility at Grangemouth
which means that sailing boats must de-mast at Port Edgar near
Edinburgh and motor up the Forth and then into the River Carron.
This can be a difficult journey against the tidal flow and reduces
the attraction of the canal for those who prefer to use sail.
3. I have already discussed the longer term
possibilities with British Waterway Scotland. The ideal solution
would be to construct a barrage across the River Carron with a
weir that would allow the water to continue to flow. The weir
would be to the East of the former end of the canal, which would
both improve the Boating Club facilities and allow the Lock to
be built linking with the Town Docks. The potential for development
around the marina facility and the re-use of the buildings for
leisure, heritage and hospitality would be substantial. The Town
Dock is located beside the main road into Grangemouth.
4. The community of Grangemouth is the largest
town in Falkirk East. There is a very active Community Council
and Community Forum. There is a thriving Grangemouth Heritage
Society and Heritage Centre. There is an active citizens group
for the development of Grangemouth, called the PORT group. This
is not to be confused with the Grangemouth Development Group which
is an industry group dominated by the Petrochemical and Chemical
All of the community groups have expressed their
unhappiness at the lack of investment in Grangemouth that has
resulted from the re-opening of the Forth and Clyde canal. As
many of these groups were the originators of suggestions that
the canal should be re-opened they feel doubly aggrieved. They
believe that British Waterways should make it their priority to
put together a scheme to develop the marina and river barrage
proposals at the earliest possible moment.
I therefore ask that the Scottish Affairs Select
Committee accept and record my submission. I ask that the Committee
note the fact that the original canal was proposed by the Member
of Parliament at that time for the area covering Port Dundas,
which later was developed as part of Grangemouth. I ask that they
accept the disappointment of the people of Grangemouth at the
present lack of development of the Grangemouth end of the canal.
I ask that they accept the potential for development around the
original end of the canal at the Town Docks at Grangemouth and
urge British Waterways Scotland to progress their plans with the
assistance of all relevant Scottish, UK and European agencies.
4 December 2001