Work has begun on a unique dredging project aimed to help transform East Yorkshire’s Pocklington Canal, reports the Canal & River Trust.
A special amphibious digger will remove approximately 8,000 tonnes of nutrient-rich silt that will be re-distributed to a nearby arable farm. This is the first time in over a century that two sections (totaling just under a mile) of the 9-mile canal are being dredged.
Unlike many of the Canal & River Trust’s other dredging projects, which primarily help to keep the network of canals open to boats, the work on the Pocklington Canal is taking place in the non-navigable upper reaches of the canal. The main focus is to help wildlife, while also contributing to the overall vision to make more of the canal navigable to canoeists and boaters.
Lizzie Dealey, Gem in the Landscape project officer at Canal & River Trust said: “This dredging project is a pivotal moment in our three-year vision to help transform this historically and environmentally important waterway through wildlife habitat improvements, heritage restoration activities and family-friendly events leading up to and during the waterway’s bicentenary next year.”
According to Phillippa Baron, ecologist for the Canal & River Trust, “Dredging is a carefully planned and monitored process, involving our teams of engineers, environmental scientists and heritage advisers to ensure we protect the heritage of the site and create an environment where rare aquatic plants, insects and birds can flourish. We purposefully carry out dredging in the cold months to avoid disrupting the breeding seasons and nesting areas in spring and summer.”
She added: “The canal will be in much better shape once the dredging has been completed. Reeds have choked up this section of the waterway, out-competing the aquatic plants that make the canal so special. With fewer reeds in the middle of the canal more sunlight will also be able reach the water allowing more fragile pond weeds and plants to thrive.”
Back in September 2016, staff from the Canal & River Trust and Natural England met to decide upon the areas that would benefit the most from dredging. Initial work was carried out earlier this year, with the final section being completed in November and December.
The Pocklington Canal dredging work is funded through the Canal & River Trust’s Gem in the Landscape project – a three-year program of activity supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.