A mile-long stretch of canal that disappeared more than half a century ago is a step closer to being restored with £4m from Highways England.
The Government-owned firm is contributing cash towards the restoration of the final ‘missing mile’ of the Stroudwater Navigation Canal in Gloucestershire.
The canal was effectively split in two in the late 1960s by the construction of a motorway and a roundabout but the works aim to restore it through the middle of the roundabout.
The funding comes from Highways England's Designated Fund for the Environment, which is worth £225m from 2015 to 2020.
Sean Walsh, route manager for Highways England, said: ‘We are delighted to support this project which will restore the missing mile to the nation’s inland waterway network.
‘When the work is finished there will not only be a restored canal, but also a great walking and cycling route, and environmental improvements, all of which will attract more visitors to the area, and so help the local economy.’
He added: ‘Our designated funds programme was developed so that we can invest in improvement projects like this, which go beyond traditional road building and maintenance and have a positive impact on people and communities, as well as protecting cultural heritage and leaving a positive legacy for future generations.’
Volunteers from the Cotswolds Canals Trust have been working since 1972 to restore derelict sections of the canal route.
The project, led by the trust and involving Stroud District Council, will restore the waterway, locks, bridges and wetlands west of Stonehouse in Gloucestershire that were lost when the M5 and the roundabout, which links the A38 and A419, were built more than 50 years ago.
The work aims to restore historic features near to junction 13 of the M5, including new bridges and a new lock, and improve more than 30 hectares of wildlife habitats.
Trust chair Jim White said: ‘The Highways England award is extremely welcome and will significantly progress the overall project by bringing forward several of the major engineering tasks in the programme.'