The Canal and River Trust is installing its first CCTV camera on a canal bridge in Kidderminster as part of a wider nationwide plan to catch hit-and-run drivers causing significant damage to 200-year-old hump-back bridges across the UK.
Many historical canal bridges across the UK are damaged each year by motorists, the Trust, which looks after the 2,800 bridges, say with most accidents they cannot claim on insurance as the motorists drive away.
The Trust installed its first CCTV camera on the Caunsall Bridge over the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal, which has been hit six times over the last 18 months and is currently undergoing £30,000 worth of repairs.
Hump-back bridges, synonymous with Britain's canal network, were built for the passage of horse-drawn carts and not designed to withstand speeding motorists who, the Trust says, cause up to £1 million of damage each year.
The Canal and River Trust say the repairs are diverting vital funds away from work to conserve the nation's waterways.
It is hoped if successful that CCTV can be installed on the bridges across the UK to recoup the money spent on repairs each year.
– Nigel Crowe, the Canal & River Trust's head of heritage
"Whenever you go over a hump-back bridge in Britain you are likely to be going over a canal. These bridges are unique, many are listed as being of special architectural or historical significance, and when damaged they need to be painstakingly repaired at considerable cost.
"We've taken the unusual steps to install the sensor to this particular bridge as it has been repeatedly hit over the last few years.
"If it is a success, we'll look to install similar sensors to other hump-back accident hot spots."
The Trust say it is hoped that by installing the CCTV, motorists will slow down and be aware of their surroundings ensuring that the bridges, national living heritage, remain for another 200 years.