A MISSING link in the ongoing project to restore the canals through Stroud will be plugged thanks to a £100,000 grant.
The gap in the re-opened waterways is between the Wallbridge Lower Lock and Lodgemore Bridge.
But now it will be restored and returned to navigation thanks to the donation from the Veolia Environmental Trust.
Executive director of the Veolia trust Paul Taylor said the grant would contribute to the Cotswold Canals Partnership's vision of restoring the Stroudwater, and the Thames and Severn canals in the interests of conservation, biodiversity and local quality of life.
Calling it an ‘exciting scheme’, he said: “It will bring benefits for residents, visitors and wildlife and I look forward to seeing it start and take shape.”
A stretch of canal 320 metres long will be dredged using the grant.
The channel is on the line of the original Stroudwater Canal but became heavily silted and overgrown after the canal was abandoned in the 1950s.
Lodgemoor Bridge is a former swing bridge, unusual because it is at a skewed angle, and which was due to be replaced with a hydralic bridge in 2011.
It is the last bridge over the Stroudwater before it ends at Wallbridge.
The lower lock, which will be difficult to rebuild because of the high banks on the opposite side of the canal, is effectively the start of Thames and Severn Canal.
Water from Slad Brook, which is culverted below the town, enters the canal nearby.
Councillor Simon Pickering is chair of the Environment Committee of Stroud District Council, which is leading the partnership’s restoration.
He said the grant was “excellent news”.
He added: “It means we can push forward and complete a missing link in restoration.”
The grant was awarded at Veolia’s quarterly board meeting this month.
Veolia will now work with Stroud District Council to finalise the details of the project, including its start date, and to get it up and running as soon as possible.