THE ambitious Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust has launched a £2m land appeal to help keep canal restoration volunteers working for the next ten years.

The trust's aim is to eventually restore the entire 34 mile length of canal, from Gloucester to Hereford, including the section through Ledbury.

One section is earmarked to run by the new 625 home estate, to the north of Ledbury viaduct.

This itself has proved to be controversial, with some town councillors expressing concerns that, if the developer Bloor Homes Western provides land for the canal, and helps to excavate as part of a planning agreement, that could lead to a significant reduction in the number of affordable homes on the estate.

At a meeting in January last year, Bloor’s planning consultant, Guy Wakefield told town councillors that affordable housing could be reduced to 30 per cent on the estate if Bloor works on the canal section in Ledbury.

Sections at nearly Newent and Oxenhall have already been restored by the trust, and now the trust is seeking donations of more money to buy land, to help keep the ongoing project on track.

Details of the appeal appear on the trust's own website, where a spokesman explained: "Our current acquisitions at Newent and Malswick have only been able to happen due to the generous support of our members to the Land Fund, and an anonymous donation some time ago of £100,000."

The spokesman added: "As a small charity with big ambitions, we always have to find the means to carry out the canal restoration and associated activities. We are now building a land bank to provide ten years of volunteer work. Although our fundraisers will be focusing on obtaining grants for projects on the land we acquire, grants are not available for land purchase. For that we need donations and loans.

"The Land Fund will provide the means to obtain the crucial sites along the line of the Canal where there is no new development proposed or where we cannot acquire the line of the Canal by other opportunities. It is a vital fund to help us eventually restore the full length from Gloucester to Hereford."

The trust is hopeful that land donations of around £2m can be secured quickly.

Further details at http: