Formal response from Canal Trust trustees ( letter to Chichester Observer)

“As the lease holders of the Chichester Ship Canal, the Trust would be grateful if you would publish this letter regarding the proposed A27 Chichester improvement scheme.

The Trust believes that the new southern relief road and bridge, to be constructed over the Canal as detailed in Option 2 of the Highways England proposals, will have a permanent
detrimental effect on the Ship Canal as a successful local tourist attraction. The number of walkers, canoeists, anglers, cyclists and our customers, using the towpath and visiting the canal basin is now in the region of 150,000 annually. In addition we operate more than 1,200 boat trips each year carrying in excess of 20,000 passengers. This is only possible due to the commitment of our 150+ volunteers who provide more than 15,000 hours of support each year. We also employ 2 members of staff and expect this to increase next year. Due to this level of activity we are one of the most successful canal operations in the country. Our gross sales for 2016 will be about £250,000, with our revenues helping to support our local suppliers and the significant costs of maintaining the Canal, without any financial contribution from WSCC who are the owners of the Canal. We are the only business operating on the Canal and the detrimental impact of the road and bridge construction during and after completion, with the associated road banks, noise, pollution and traffic visibility, will adversely affect local and national interest in the Canal’s attraction and use. Any consequential reduction to visitor numbers and therefore our income will affect our financial capability to maintain the Canal in future years. The Canal is a Site of Nature Conservation importance, with a wide variety of flora and fauna enjoyed by the many visitors. To disturb the peaceful rural countryside that the Canal meanders through would be a travesty. Combined with the loss of the uninterrupted view of the Cathedral spire across the fields, as J M Turner’s historic painting “The Chichester Canal” beautifully illustrates, the elevated road and bridge will be a permanent blot on the landscape.

The Trust’s position therefore is that the proposed new southern road route and bridge, as presently illustrated in Option 2, is not an acceptable development. This is the unanimous view of the Trust Directors. The Trust fully appreciate that people will have differing views as to which of the proposed Options they will support. It is our hope however that those who do vote, regardless of the Option they decide to support, will in addition also record their support for the Trust’s position regarding Option 2 and to everyone who does so, our sincere thanks”.
Mike Bushell
Chichester Ship Canal Trust

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