Milestone reached at Muiravonside canal breach.

Seven months after an historic breach on the Union Canal near Polmont Scottish Canals has refilled the canal with water.

Early on the 12th of August 2020 a one in 240-year storm resulted in a breach of the Union Canal near Muiravonside, which was recorded shortly after the incident by Historic Environment Scotland for its historic significance. Within a matter of hours, Scottish Canals, along with partners, led an emergency response to stop the flow of water and rescue over 11,000 displaced fish.

The removal of temporary dams within the canal mark a significant milestone with water now flowing into the affected area of the canal for the first time since August 2020. The embankment reinstatement and strengthening works were made possible with funding from the Scottish Government, along with wider resilience measures in other key locations, to reduce the probability of similar scenarios.

“The breach on the Union Canal near Muiravonside serves as a reminder to us of the vulnerability of our historic assets. Historic and future land use, combined with an increasingly changing climate that includes more intense rainfall incidents, presents significant threats to the integrity our canal infrastructure. Our investigations have shown a complexity of interrelated events that occurred within the surrounding catchments led to our canal being damaged and breached.

“Working with partners, we have worked tirelessly to repair the breach in the canal whilst also carrying out a number of climate change resilience works, which will form the start of an embankment strengthening programme along our network to future proof the canal for generations to come.”

Richard Millar, Chief Operating Officer of Scottish Canals

In addition to the work at Muiravonside, Scottish Canals and its partner, Mackenzie Construction Limited, have undertaken a program of climate change resilience works along the Union Canal that include upgrading overflow weirs, culverts under the canal, emergency stop plank installations and monitoring equipment to assist in remote sensing and alerting of any significant events.

Gavin Chesney, Mackenzie Construction Limited’s Contracts Manager, said:

“Since the embankment breach last August, our priority has been establishing and maintaining a safe and secure site for reinstatement works to take place.

“The reintroduction of water to the canal marks a key milestone for the team and we are delighted to be one step closer to supporting Scottish Canals in the reopening of this key waterway to the public.”

The area of the canal between Polmont and Linlithgow will be fully reinstated in April 2021, however, will remain closed for navigation until the 28th of May 2021 when Scottish Canals reopens the waterways to boating community for the year ahead.

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