KEEN canal activists have been assured ambitious, multi-million pound plans to link the Slough Arm of the Grand Union Canal with the River Thames are still a 'long-term objective'.

The proposal to create a one-and-a-half mile link was included in Slough Borough Council's Site Allocations Plan - along with 87 other long-term developments - in 2008.

After consultation, the plan gained support from residents, with Mike Timms, Friends of Slough Canal committee member, leading councillors on a sight-seeing trip to a similar scheme in Swindon, the following year.

But, despite talk of the waterway drying up, council chiefs have assured supporters the canal development is still on the agenda.

Councillor James Swindlehurst, commissioner for neighbourhoods and renewal, said: "The link, as well as the wider regeneration work connected with the canal from 2008, remains a long-term objective to which the council is committed to when the economic climate allows and once the range of current regeneration projects have been delivered." A feasibility study was undertaken by British Waterways in the 1990s, which showed the project would cost up to �30m.

It suggested the waterway would either go through London Road or the A4 and the M4 motorway, before joining the river at Romney Lock, Eton.

Mr Timms said: "It would be a major asset to the waterway system of Slough. It all seems a bit improbable, but there is a lot of money being spent on building waterways in the UK.

"It's only one-and-a-half miles long - the problem is the route goes through a built-up area." He said the Friends of Slough Canal would continue to 'push' for the development.

A Canal And River Trust spokeswoman added: "The idea of a link connecting the Slough Arm with the River Thames is a fascinating one and British Waterways (now the Canal & River Trust) has previously provided technical advice to the Friends of Slough Canal on the scheme.

"It is clearly a very ambitious, long-term project. We would love to be involved if the necessary funding and support could be found in the future."