Boat trips on the Wey and Arun Canal have been suspended due to low water levels caused by the current hot weather - only the second time in a decade the decision has been made.
A statement says: “In view of the exceptional dry spell, W&A Enterprises Ltd, on behalf of The Wey & Arun Canal Trust, has made the difficult decision to suspend its boat trips beginning Friday 27 July.
“Having assessed the potential impact to the wildlife and environment of the canal if boat trips are to continue given the low water levels, the company has concluded that there is no choice but to cease boat operations from Friday 27 July until Saturday 1 September.
“The Environment Agency had already requested a large stretch of navigable water is closed because of the impact on fish life, and informed the Trust it can no longer extract water from nearby rivers for fear of damage to the bio-diversity of those watercourses. “
The company runs public, special event and chartered cruises from Loxwood, and this is only the second time in a decade such a decision has had to be made. The tow path and visitor centre will remain open and bookings are being taken for events later in the year, including the popular Santa cruises.
The situation will be reviewed on a weekly basis and any changes will be shown on the website, www.weyarun.org.uk/trips.
Boat Group chairman James Field said he hoped the public would understand the need to take seriously the Trust’s responsibility to the environment.
He added: “Our office team is contacting everyone who has booked a public trip between those dates, all charterers are being contacted, and our web pages will be blocked for public trip bookings during this period. We are truly sorry for this inconvenience.”
Wey & Arun Canal Trust chairman Sally Schupke added: “While sadly we cannot offer boat trips, the public can still enjoy shady tow path walks and visit our canal centre for tourist information and more details on the Trust’s restoration work.”