FARMERS have hit out at British Waterways for failing to repair leaks in a canal and ‘endangering the livelihoods of businesses’.

A group of farming friends have voiced their anger to the company, which closed a 64-mile stretch of the canal from Gargrave to Wigan for boating on August 2.

The group, including Neil Hanson, of Greenberfield, Barnoldswick, all have land next to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and say it is not just a lack of rainfall that is the problem, but the fact a lot of water is seeping away.

Spokesman Tim Pilling said: “On one farmer’s land alone there are more than 20 leaks, ranging from seepages resulting in permanent soft land unable to bear the weight of agricultural machinery to flowing streams losing thousands of gallons a day.

“Some have required livestock to be pulled out of them by tractors.

All of this leads to large areas of good farmland becoming unproductive and in multiple cases unusable and dangerous.

“Despite many letters, requests and even the deployment of agents, British Waterways refuses to act or acknowledge liability.

“Instead they close the canal, endangering the economic futures of many small businesses that rely on the supper trade from this important local resource.”

A British Waterways spokesman confirmed there had been little change in water levels in the reservoirs despite the recent rain because it was not enough.

He said leaks were being repaired as money became available and added: “There are always going to be some leaks in this canal. It is a clay base and very old and we have to prioritise our works programme to ensure the safety of our customers, the integrity of this historic structure and protection of wildlife.”