Bedford - MK Waterway Trust will link the Grand Union Canal with the Great Ouse. It is looking for local volunteers Image: BMKWT

Volunteers needed to promote the Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway

The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust is calling for volunteers from Marston Vale to help to deliver a waterway linking the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes to the Great Ouse in Bedford.

Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterways Trust chair, Jane Hamilton, said:

“At the moment it takes around two weeks [by water] to get to Bedford from Milton Keynes. Although Bedford is on a river, it doesn’t have river traffic.

“Across the country other waterways have connections – this Waterway will open up a new loop.”

Is it a worry that the financial support from developers would put off local volunteers?

The volunteers would help to shape and promote the waterway. But is the Trust worried that by taking money from controversial developments, such as the Covanta Energy Recovery Facility, that residents would oppose the waterway?

Bedford - MK Waterway route through Marston Vale Image: BMKWT

Jane said:

“We are not getting a payment from Covanta.

“Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) required that Covanta put £3M aside to pay for any infrastructure that is needed to put its cables over the route.

“All that is happening is that the route of the Waterway is being protected – Central Beds was spot-on in doing this.”

As these cables will run across the boundary of Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough councils, the £3M is being held by Bedford Borough. The council is currently negotiating with Covanta on the best method to run the cables while still protecting the waterway’s route.


“Massive setback” if Marston Valley planning application is refused

Another large development in the area is O&H Properties’ proposed Marston Valley. CBC’s draft local plan states that developers that build along the Waterway’s route must deliver that section.

Jane said:

“O&H are hitting the waterway head on and turning it into an advantage to produce a local benefit – this is a very positive attitude.”

Jane feels that the pressure for more development is not going to go away. As it is going to happen, it might as well provide something positive for the area.

“Quite often news developments mean one built-on field after another. If you have a waterway at the heart of a new development you would have a sense of place, which people would value.

“It also means that there will be somewhere people can walk, cycle, picnic and other healthy living activities.

“Again, the Trust is not receiving any payments, what everyone is getting is a waterway park.”

If the Local Plan and Marston Valley are rejected, would this be the end of the waterway?

“It would be a massive setback. The Trust cannot dig the route, we rely on others.”

The John Bunyan Boat helps to raise funds for the Bedford - MK Waterways Trust Image: BMKWEL

Donating your support and time to the Waterway

Volunteering with the trust can be a few hours a year to a couple hours a week.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering, visit the website, leave a message on 01908 351870 or email

The Trust is looking to fill various roles. Such as board members, promotional and website activities, and people who can talk to local groups, such as parish councils.

“The Waterway will put the whole area on the map in a big way”