“Since the restoration of the Sankey Canal was carried out between Spike Island in Widnes and Bewsey, Warrington, in the early 1980’s it has been kept in water by a supply that has come from Fiddlers Ferry Power Station.

“The original sources of supply had come from the St Helens area – Carr Mill Dam being one of the main contributors of water –  but those supplies became isolated as sections of the canal were demolished and infilled in the 1970s.

“Fiddlers Ferry Power Station closed on 31 March 2020 and it is now in the process of being decommissioned. The owner, SSE, confirmed that, as part of the decommissioning, regular pumping of  water into the canal will continue until around July and then it will become sporadic until, eventually, there will be no pumping at all.

At the end of the decommissioning there will be no power station and therefore the water supply that has been relied upon for decades will no longer exist.

For the past ten years Halton Borough Council, working in partnership with Warrington Borough Council, has been working to address this situation. The most realistic and sustainable solution that has been identified is to use the Sankey Brook as a feed for the canal.

“This will require some major engineering and Warrington Council, supported by Halton, is currently working on this, but it will take a couple of years to bring this about. This means that the current water levels within the canal cannot be guaranteed.

“Halton Council remains committed to the historic Sankey Canal and we would still like to restore it to navigation between Spike Island and Fiddlers Ferry. To that end we will be installing a swing bridge at Spike Island on the site of the iron swing bridge that had first been installed in 1833.

“We are hoping that work will commence on that project this year. We are also currently working up a project to restore the river slipway at Spike Island so that boats could be directly launched into the river.”