A DEBATE on the restoration of Montgomery Canal has been heard in the House of Commons.

Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams raised the ongoing restoration, with an update to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rebecca Pow.

In his address, Mr Williams said he hoped for further debate about the funding of similar projects.

He said: "This afternoon, I joined my constituents and interested parties over Zoom to talk about the Montgomery Canal—it is very important that it is the Montgomery, not Montgomeryshire, canal, as I keep getting reminded—with Michael Haig from the Inland Waterways Association and Michael Limbrey, who heads the Montgomery restoration efforts.

"I can report to the House and the Minister that the efforts to restore Montgomery canal are alive and well, and going at great speed thanks to a recent national lottery heritage fund grant of up to £4 million, which is being spent as we speak, and thanks to the volunteers.

"I implore the Minister to consider that there are restoration projects in constituencies across the UK, and if we look at the ​gross value added effect of restoring canals, we see that there is a huge positive return to the Exchequer and the public purse.

"It is excellent value for money to invest in restoring our canal networks. I have alluded to the mental health benefits and the tourism effects, but if we work with the IWA and the Canal and River Trust, we can set out an excellent stall.

"The Government could invest in cycleways across the UK, not just in the cities and market towns, and could level up the canal network. People sometimes think that restoring the canals and turning the UK economy round on the basis of canals is a joke.

"I am not saying that it will completely restore the effects of the current crisis, but it will help. It will help draw together local businesses to build a plan for tourism and development. It will help drive domestic tourism, and it will have environmental benefits. I will leave that thought as a preamble to further debates on this subject, but I look forward to the Minister’s response."

The canal stretches from Newtown, through Llanymynech, to Ellesmere in Shropshire.

Ms Pow said she was fully in agreement about the value of the Montgomery Canal and efforts to restore it.

She said: "The Government recognise the very considerable benefits our canal network brings in myriad ways, such as providing greater access to the outdoors, enhancing wellbeing, bringing us closer to water, engaging with nature—those water plantains—increasing leisure and recreation, increasing regeneration and bringing value to the economy.

"I think we are singing from the same hymn sheet in that I am a convert to canal restoration. I very much forward to walking down that stretch of restored canal— I will not say hand in hand with my honourable friend (Mr Williams), but I would certainly like to walk down it with him—and to enjoying the wider benefits of Montgomeryshire."