Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


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 inquiry.

  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 companies.

  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

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