Cambridgeshire and Peterborough MEP Alex Mayer said it is "ridiculous" that Welches Dam Lock remains shut after ten years and brand it a "wasted opportunity" for local tourism on a visit to Welches Dam on Friday 31st March.
Ms Mayer will meet fellow members of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) to back their campaign to unblock local rivers and make them navigable again.
Opening up Welches Dam Lock would be a key step in allowing boaters to more easily navigate between the UK’s canal network and the Great Ouse system. But since Welches Dam was closed in 2006 by the Environment Agency there has been a stalemate. No deal has been reached to restore the dam, or even to allow voluntary organisations such as the IWA to carry out the repairs.
The EU funded Fens Waterways Link recognised the benefits open rivers have for tourism, businesses and local communities, as well as to walkers and boaters but Government budget cuts to the Environment Agency meant that the project ground to a halt.
The Labour MEP said: “It’s a dam-shame that we're not making the most of Cambridgeshire's rivers. The Government have slashed the Environment Agency's funding by more than a quarter since 2010 meaning waterways in East Anglia remain as dead end creeks.
Each year more than ten million people visit Britain’s 6,500 miles of canals and rivers to bask in the glory of Britain’s wildlife, to fish, or to go boating. It's clear we need to unblock our rivers to unlock tourist potential."