TOURISM chiefs in Wrexham received a major boost when their counterparts from Pontcysyllte Aqueduct's biggest World Heritage Site rival gave the structure their support.
Thomas Telford's 200-year-old structure is fighting the Lake District for backing from the Government as Britain's UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination.
But the Cumbrian Tourist Board (CTB) and Cumbria County Council are against the plan and the CTB has admitted the aqueduct will benefit more from the recognition.
'Here the only organisation that wants it is the Lake District Tourism Authority,' said CTB spokesman Ellis Butcher. 'Ourselves and the county council are against it.
'If you are trying to expand your tourism and reach new markets, then it is fine. But we are already world famous and have a thriving tourist trade.
'All we believe World Heritage status will bring are restrictions on developments to improve our facilities.
'The status unlocks doors for funding for things like maintenance of sites and we are sure Pontcysyllte will benefit more than us.'
The Lake District is believed to be the favourite to secure the UK's nomination due to its fame. But campaigners for Pontcysyllte think the findings of a new report could tip the balance.
Dr Dawn Roberts of Wrexham's Economic Development department said: 'We are just completing a report by historians and consultants into the aqueduct. What it says is that the aqueduct satisfies three out of six of the UNESCO criteria for a heritage site. It only needs to meet one.
'According to our findings, it is a masterpiece, historically influential and an outstanding structure.
'We know we are competing with the Lake District for the Government's approval and if Wrexham council and the Welsh Assembly both say yes to the bid we are confident we can make Westminster put us forward as the UK bid.
'The Lake District already has its reputation. The aqueduct is bringing something new to the table and, if successful, could bring in £2m of free advertising for the area because of the iconic nature of World Heritage Sites.'