A PROJECT which could attract thousands of visitors to the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal has been given the go ahead by Torfaen council.

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal Adventure Triangle aims to develop outdoor recreation and leisure activities along the canal in Torfaen and Caerphilly.

Plans include a walk and cycle link across the upland areas linking the two county boroughs, as well as new visitor centres along parts of the 35-mile canal.

A total of £4.6 million has been raised to pay for the scheme, including contributions from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Welsh Government.

More than £2 million is expected to be spent on developments within Torfaen over the next two years.

Torfaen council, which will lead the project, has given its approval for work to commence on the design and delivery of the activities.

The council will be supported by Caerphilly council, the Canal and River Trust and the Monmouthshire, Brecon & Abergavenny Canals Trust.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Labour councillor Fiona Cross said: “This is a great example of partnership working.

“As an avid runner and walker I welcome the report. It has the potential to bring long-term and valued community improvements while encouraging tourism and an active lifestyle.”

Developments at canal basins in Torfaen include a new adventure sports facility at Pontymoile and a holiday boat hire facility at Five Locks.

Canal-side infrastructure has also been proposed to compliment the growing South Sebastopol community.

In Caerphilly, an ‘adventure hub’ is planned at Cwmcarn Forest along with enhancements of cycle and pedestrian routes along the canal.

Major works across Mynydd Maen are also planned to support walking, mountain biking and horse-riding between various hubs in the two authority areas.

The project is one of 10 poised to share £27.7 million of grants given to the Welsh Government’s tourism arm, Visit Wales, by the ERDF.

The ERDF is paying £2 million towards the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal Adventure Triangle, with the Welsh Government contributing £1.4 million.

Speaking at cabinet on Tuesday, Torfaen council leader Anthony Hunt welcomed the use of ERDF money.

“It’s good to see European funding being spent in this way while we can still take advantage of them. I wish that wasn’t as time limited as it appears to be,” said Cllr Hunt.

“So if the former foreign secretary wishes to have a trip to the canal to show him the benefits of European membership I’d be more than happy to share a boat with him.”

The remainder of the funding will be covered by Torfaen (£132,679) and Caerphilly (£726,000) councils, along with the Canal and River Trust (£360,000).