The New Opportunities and Community Funds have been merged to create the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) or BIG for short. BIG hands out half the good causes money from the National Lottery, with the focus on improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need. As such it does not represent a direct replacement for the Millennium Lottery Fund which proved so beneficial for waterway restoration. However, BIG launched in 2005 the ÂŁ140m Living Landmarks programme and the Council is very pleased to see the initiative taken by a number of project promoters to submit significant bids for this new funding. At the time of writing, the projects or parts of projects which have come through to the short listing stage are the Bedford - Milton Keynes Waterway, the Cotswold Canals, the Forth & Clyde Canal at Grangemouth, further development of Lydney Canal and Harbour, Somerset Waterlinks (largely non-navigation oriented), the Wilts & Berks and the Monmouth & Brecon Canals, and a water project which will assist the Bradford Canal restoration.
The RDAs in England have selectively supported some major waterway projects (most recently the Cotswold Canals and Liverpool Link projects) and together with the HLF continue to provide the vital sources of funding for a number of regeneration-led waterway restoration projects. The challenge in most cases remains to convert support for feasibility studies into the large-scale funding which projects need. Quantified and concrete evidence of what has happened in earlier projects needs to be marshalled and realistic forecasts of outputs prepared. Their equivalents in Wales and Scotland may also still require further persuasion as to the value of waterway restoration and development.
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) produces a regular and comprehensive update (available online) on funding sources which is recommended reading for all project promoters. Heritage Link publishes a fortnightly bulletin, Heritage Link, (also available online) which provides a useful digest of heritage news and views across the sector.
IWAAC INLAND WATERWAY RESTORATION AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
Restoration Priorities 2006