VNF’s summary report on its activities in 2012 devotes one of its 10 chapters to the tree-replanting programme and corporate patronage approach to funding the €200 million restoration of the Canal du Midi’s characteristic landscape.
VNF has a logo which keeps the old, enriching it with evocative graphics by Philippe Apeloig
VNF reports (in its New Year press release) that it felled 1668 plane-trees condemned by canker stain in 2012, and replanted 68: the uninformed reader immediately sees a ‘deficit’ of 1600 trees. This sad statistic, however inevitable in view of the experimental nature of the first replanting operations, is like a wake-up call. The tree-felling and replanting debate – and the questions surrounding the should not become an excuse for inaction in other areas.
This is one of many concerns expressed by the Toulouse Waterway Information Network, a grouping of waterway interests in SW France. The network (Réseau Fluvial Toulousain) is challenging local and regional politicians to come up with a robust and workable plan to develop the waterway economy. It is convinced that France in general – and in this case SW France – possesses unique skills, resources and capability to make the canal economy more vibrant, and create more jobs, generate more income.
They say this is what the World Canals Conference* should be all about, and call for a debate to be held in the context of this international conference, a debate which should leave no stone unturned in the search for viable management models and economic development for our canals and rivers.
A properly-planned future for the Canal des Deux Mers should be an issue in the 2014 municipal elections, and the réseau hopes that candidates will state their positions in their manifestos.
* Salons Vanel, Toulouse, 16-19 septembre 2013 – see the WCC web site
Banner outside the Canal du Midi Museum at Saint-Ferréol, to be visited during the 2013 World Canals Conference in Toulouse
The Google Streetview automatic scrambler of peoples’ faces has indiscriminately defaced the creator of the Canal du Midi on a banner outside the canal museum at Saint-Ferréol. This delightful quirk of automation of image processing suggests a new form of request to be made to our omnipotent and omniscient provider of images of the planet: ‘Dear G, Please unscramble the image of Pierre Paul Riquet. He died in 1680, so you’re safe from any legal action!’
Barge owners and operators will contribute up to half of the cost of building the 106km long Seine-Nord Europe canal through the toll levied by the canal’s future private-sector operator.
Two approaches were discussed at a meeting on April 18 in Ghent, bringing together VNF, Waterwegen & Zeekanalen (Flanders) and Service Public de Wallonie (Wallonia).
The first, proposed by the project partners, involves charging more for goods that are ‘captive’ or most likely to be carried by water, such as agricultural products, bulk minerals and metals, and less for goods more difficult to win from road and rail, such as containers.
The carriers argued on the contrary for a toll indexed on the value of the cargoes.
Route of the Seine-Nord Europe Canal, close to the existing Canal du Nord, which will be abandoned except for the short connecting length with four locks north of Péronne
The proposed tolls range from €2 to €4.90 per tonne, according a report in the French magazine NPI – Navigation, Ports & Intermodalité.
These tolls were set at a level corresponding to 30% of the saving in transport costs offered by the canal.
This means that the carrying industry will retain 70% of the benefit of the reduction in transport costs.
It remains to select the private-sector partner to design, build and operate the waterway, although the competitive dialogue process should be completed in the coming weeks.
Watch this space!
Artist's impression of aqueduct carrying the new canal over the A29 motorway