This week, Water Minister Dan Rogerson was invited by the Canal & River Trust to see how they worked with the Olympic Delivery Authority to restore and repair the historic Bow Back Rivers in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, East London.
As well as providing a huge boost to the area, the Park and waterways have played a huge role in ensuring the long-term legacy of the world’s first truly sustainable Olympics and Paralympics in London 2012.
The historic Bow Back Rivers in London’s East End have undergone a remarkable transformation over the past four years – from neglected and polluted backwaters to the centrepiece of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Between 2005 and 2012 more than £50m of investment was made by various Government agencies to transform the waterways. The Canal & River Trust’s predecessor, British Waterways, was at the forefront of these efforts, backed by Defra and working with organisations including the Environment Agency.
Waterway infrastructure improvements included building a new lock and water control structure at Three Mills, refurbishing an abandoned lock on City Mill River, rebuilding waterway walls and towpaths, creating deeper channels for freight and boating traffic, installing infrastructure for trip boats, creating new wildlife habitats for birds and insects, building new bridges and establishing better, safer connections for walkers and cyclists.
Dan Rogerson, Water Minister, said:
These canals in the Olympic Park demonstrate that this country’s waterways are hugely valuable, not only in terms of our historic heritage and maintaining the Olympic legacy, but also because they will also bring enjoyment to countless local residents and visitors.
The Canal & River Trust has made immense progress in fund-raising, engaging volunteers, contributing to tourism growth and managing the waterways for which they are responsible. I am particularly delighted that the number of waterways volunteers has increased so substantially since the creation of the Trust in 2012.
Tony Hales, Chair of the Canal & River Trust, said:
Ten years ago the Bow Back Rivers were in an appalling state of dereliction. The fact that they have been so utterly transformed, and are such a terrific legacy for London, is thanks not just to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but also to the support and faith of so many individuals and organisations. The rivers are now a jewel in the crown of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and we are working with the London Legacy Development Corporation to unlock the next chapter in their long history. For me, it has been a real privilege to witness and play a part in their revival and to see the new communities moving into the regenerated area.
Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, said:
We’ve had a hugely successful summer at the Park and thousands of our visitors have taken the opportunity to explore even more of what’s on offer by jumping aboard a boat and taking a trip down the newly restored waterways. This is the first phase in our plans for the waterways and is yet another step in our promise to deliver a lasting legacy following the Games.
The Canal & River Trust was created from British Waterways in 2012. One of the Government’s key objectives in creating the Trust was to increase the involvement of local people in the management and future strategy of the waterways. This has been achieved across the country through waterways partnerships and the large numbers of volunteers who are increasingly contributing to the achievement of the Trust’s objectives.