Dramatic canal collapse was predicted months before it happened – councillor

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By Western Morning News | Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 06:30

The potential failure of the water management system on the Grand Western Canal near Tiverton was discussed months before the devastating breach during the November floods, a councillor says.

Anglers, businesses and other custodians of the 199-year-old waterway had previously debated their concerns over the possibility of a disaster.

Welcoming Devon County Council's decision to invest £3 million in repairing, restoring and modernising the canal, Councillor Des Hannon said "important lessons were learnt" after the embankment collapse last which has left two incomplete sections of the waterway.

Coun Hannon, who represents Tiverton East and chairs the Grand Western Canal Joint Advisory Committee (JAC) said: "The JAC has talked about this issue for quite some time before it happened. It was something that was systematic, things have been developing which didn't make something like this inevitable but did mean it could happen."

Following heavy rain on November 21, water levels in the canal are estimated to have risen by 25cm within hours and part of the swing embankment, which rises nearly 60 feet from surrounding fields at Halberton, collapsed, resulting in a mile-long section of canal being closed since the incident.

At a meeting of the county council's cabinet last week, Coun Stuart Hughes said he had been "very impressed by the passion of the community" to see the canal restored with people in Halberton and surrounding villages pledging money.

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