A CHARITY that wants to restore a canal through the centre of Melksham has received a boost from a town council committee.

Melksham Town Council's policy committee has agreed in principle to support the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust's scheme to route the canal through the river Avon in the centre of town.

The multi-million pound project would connect the Kennet & Avon Canal near Semington to the historic route near Lacock, and then continue north to the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade and the River Thames near Abingdon with links to Chippenham, Calne and Swindon.

The plan would see a new weir south of the bypass bridge, behind which the river level would be raised to allow sufficient depth for navigation and the existing weir demolished.

Riverside walls and banks would be partially covered and planted with wetland species and moorings would be provided and linked to the town by new paths and cycle ways.

Colin Fletcher, director of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, said: "The charity has spent several months working to convince people of the benefits of a restored waterway, highlighting the potential boost to tourism, employment and the environment, as well as the reduced flood risk.

"Now it looks as if the tide of public opinion has truly turned in our favour."