Dredging work is currently taking place on the Thames and Severn Canal, near Stroud Brewery using ‘Dudley’ the dredger that was lifted into the canal last November.
“Due to limited boat movements and the amount of silt washed into the canal since its restoration the navigable channel needs to be re-dredged,” explained Nick Rowson, Cotswold Canals Trust (CCT) Environmental Director.
“Cotswold Canals Trust Volunteers will be undertaking this task using the new double-ended dredger and mud barges. The silt will be deposited behind retaining bunds set back from the far side edge of the bank where it can dry, and either be left in situ or moved off site.
“There are three main areas that will be used; opposite the Stroud Brewery, the field east of Ham Mill Lock and the area west of Ham Mill Lock, recently used by Network Rail as access to pile a section of the rail embankment.
“Ecological surveys have been undertaken and further are planned. CCT is working with a specialist ecologist to ensure suitable working methodologies both for the main silt sites and where we know there are specific wildlife issues such as potential water voles, the nesting swans, if they nest again near Ham Mill, and a potential otter holt.
“Work has now started with the initial work to mitigate impact on water vole undertaken with the ecologist in attendance and under Natural England licence,” added Mr Rowson.
CCT is in discussions with Network Rail to allow a winding hole to be constructed – a widened area of the canal to allow boats to turn – without risk to the rail embankment.
“It is still our intention that the brewery becomes the end destination once Phase 1B is completed and until Brimscombe Port is constructed and the link past the Iron Works finished,” said Lisa Mant, Trust Administrator and Company Secretary.
“In addition to our work Network Rail have been undertaking two projects west of Ham Mill to provide additional piling and drainage to protect the London main line embankments.”
Cotswold Canals Trust is always looking for new volunteers to help restore and raise money for the charity. Anyone interested in learning a new skill or joining one of the many established volunteering teams can contact the CCT Office on 01453 752568 or firstname.lastname@example.org