PLANS to link up Chichester canal with the sea have been slammed by one councillor as ‘dreamy ambition’.
Several councillors launched a fight to get any mention of through-navigation plans for the canal removed from the local plan – but failed to win the vote.
At a full meeting of the district council on Tuesday (September 24), a group of councillors argued that restoring the canal down through the Manhood Peninsula would cause traffic and environmental problems.
Addressing the plans by the Chichester Ship Canal Trust, Cllr Peter Clementson said: “The plan is a litany of misinformation and dreamy ambition.
“It makes some remarkable statements. One which I particularly like, that the Chichester Ship Canal would restore links with other European ports!
“No substantial reason or up-to-date formal business plan has been put forward as to why anybody should spend £5m plus to restore a canal that was a commercial failure from its conception.”
He was particularly concerned about the proposed raised bridge on the B2201 from Sidlesham to Chichester.
“There are only three roads to the Peninsula and the restoration plan calmly cuts one off with a raised bridge,” he said.
Other councillors who spoke out against the canal plans were John Ridd, Tricia Tull, Graeme Barrett and Pieter Montyn – all councillors from the Manhood Peninsula.
However other councillors said the canal plans should be left in the local plan, as any proposals by the trust would be subject to environmental impact and highways assessments before any work could go forward.
Cllr Clementson put forward a proposal to remove the support for the restoration plan in the local plan, but the vote failed 10 to 24.
Margaret Whitehead, chairman of the Chichester Ship Canal Project Board, said: “The canal project board are delighted with the fact the Chichester Ship Canal will be kept in the draft local plan policy and that over two-thirds of the members were in favour of this.
“With regards to the B2201 there would be a lifting bridge which would only open when there are boats passing under, would have lights on the bridge to control the traffic, would not open during the rush hour and when open would be for about five to eight minutes.
“All money will be raised from the private sector and we are not looking for public money.”