There are 27,000 boats on inland waterways and the Liverpool Canal Link is expected to entice more than 4,500 boat visits to Liverpool's waterfront each year, adding colour and vibrancy to the currently underused water-space.
British Waterways, which owns and operates Liverpool South Docks, is the public corporation that attends for the 2,000-mile network of canals and rivers in England, Scotland and Wales.
Work has begun on the long planned extension to the Leeds-Liverpool canal providing a link with the south docks system.
British Waterways received approval from Liverpool City Council for the new 2.5 kilometre (1.4 mile) canal linking the docks to the rest of the country’s canals.
Canal boats as well as commercial ships will be able to navigate through the terminus at Stanley Dock and towards the Pier Head.
Work on the new waterway is due to be completed by the end of 2007 in readiness for Liverpool’s 800th anniversary and the Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008.
The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott who was promoting the Canal links as part of the Northern Way initiative last year said it was fitting that the canal link be restored as northern cities start to rebuild their links and work together.
He said: "The Leeds & Liverpool Canal was once the backbone of the northern economy. Over the last decade we have seen a renaissance for our waterways, with increased investment and regeneration work, led by British Waterways, bringing waterway life and a great leisure facility back to the people."
An estimate by British Waterways claims that the link will attract and extra 200,000 visitors to Liverpool as well as an additional £1.9 million. The canal link will also generate an extra 200 jobs in the Merseyside area.
Robin Evans chief executive of British Waterways said: "We are thrilled that funding for the Liverpool Canal Link has been secured.
|"The restoration is great news for boaters and for everyone in Liverpool looking forward to the Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008."|
|Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott|
"Historically canals have been at the forefront of economic development. Boats will once again be able to cruise over the Pennines from Leeds to Liverpool and into the city's world famous South Docks."
Although the scheme has won the approval of Liverpool City Council, not everyone is pleased with the proposed link. The Victorian Society has registered its objection saying the canal should be re-routed.
Dale Dishon – Northern & Welsh Architectural Adviser of the Victorian Society said: "In principle we are not against extending the Leeds to Liverpool canal into Canning Dock. However, any proposals for this would have to be carefully harmonised with the monuments and listed buildings in its vicinity.
"In our opinion it would be preferable for the canal to take a different route, behind the Three Graces along the Strand and avoid having a negative impact on the Pier Head."
|Draining of docks during work|
One of the biggest new stretches of waterway will see a 470-metre long channel between Trafalgar Dock and Waterloo Dock passing in front of the Liver Building.
The riverside walkway from Dukes Mast to the Museum of Liverpool Life including Canning Bridge will be closed to pedestrians and cyclists during the refurbishment of the docks.
The Canning River entrance gate and its associated structures are undergoing work in preparation of the new canal system.
There will be a new lock system to enable canal boats to reach Canning Dock and a new channel linking Princes Dock with the Pier Head situated near to the former floating roadway.
Liverpool City Council, Liverpool Vision and the Mersey Dock & Harbour Company are all supporting the project.
Funding mainly comes from the European Objective One in addition to money previously pledged by the North West Development Agency (£7.5 million), English Partnerships (£1.7 million) and British Waterways (£210,000).
The route was the most popular proposed canal route in a public survey carried out in England in 2001 - it was favoured by 77% of respondents.