Removal of sluice gate at Trafford Mill would be 'legalised vandalism"
CAMPAIGNERS are opposing an Environment Agency plan to remove a much- loved landmark.
The sluice gate on the River Gowy at Trafford Mill, Mickle Trafford, is associated with the water-powered former corn mill but threatened with removal because it is in 'poor condition'.
The gate, made by Goulds of Ellesmere Port, was installed in 1946 by West Cheshire Water Board to safeguard the water supply to the mill and reduce the risk of flooding around the Stanlow oil refinery.
It is one of the last of its type on the Gowy, and stands at the head of a river channel excavated by Italian prisoners of war.
Malcolm Padmore, Trafford Mill Warden, said "The sluice may not be the most beautiful structure, but it is important in the context of our listed 18th century water mill and has a story to tell. Without it, the mill effectively becomes a redundant structure on a dead stretch of river."
The removal of the sluice gate would cause practical difficulties for Trafford Mill - there are plans to convert it into a working museum and educational resource centre for schools at a total cost of about ÃÂ£700,000.
Mr Padmore hopes to restore one of two water wheels at the site and get it working again for the benefit of visitors.
Planning permission has been gained to create a new access for the mill and car park. And a Heritage Lottery Fund application will be submitted.
The project fits in with other activities taking place on the surrounding land, including tours of Grange Farm by rare breed beef farmer Huw Rowlands.
The British Trust of Conservation Volunteers grow vegetables in a kitchen garden which, it is hoped, will one day supply the cafe at Trafford Mill.
Mickle Trafford farmer Huw Rowlands said: "There is strong local support for keeping the sluice, which the Environment Agency seems hell-bent on ignoring. It looks like legalised vandalism by an unaccountable quango to me."
Environment Agency spokeswoman Jaine Barry said: "The Environment Agency is planning to remove the sluice gate at Mickle Trafford because it is in a poor condition and could drop into the waterway below. If this were to happen the gate could cause a blockage resulting in flooding to the surrounding area, including the mill, which is a listed building. It would increase bank erosion and restrict fish movement"