Work starts on dredging Newport canal to improve quality of water for fish and plants

Work has started on dredging a Newport canal in a bid to improve water quality for fish and plants living there.

Mayor of Newport, Councillor Peter Scott, and Councillor Carolyn Healy, off Water Lane, Newport, where the work is being done
Mayor of Newport, Councillor Peter Scott, and Councillor Carolyn Healy, off Water Lane, Newport, where the work is being done

Shropshire Wildlife Trust will carry out the project at Newport's canal, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The canal towpath, between Cosy Hill and the bridge at Fishers Lock, had been expected to be closed completely.

But it will remain accessible – with a banksman on site to guide people safely around while the work is taking place.

And the overall dredging project, which had been expected to take four weeks, could now be completed in two.

'Towpath won;t be fully closed'

Councillor Peter Scott, mayor of Newport, said: "The towpath won't be fully closed as we had thought – there will be a banksman who can guide people.

"If there's a point where they can't use it, they will close it – but for a lot of the time it will be open and they will do the work in two weeks rather than four.

"Since the dredging last year, the water quality has improved massively and that's had an effect on the flora and the fish in the canal.

"You can really see the clarity of the water. There are millions of tadpoles whereas, in previous years, there were hardly any.

"It's a huge job and it has to happen – to keep it an SSSI it needs to have flora in there and it will only grow if the conditions are right.

'It will be better for the fish'

"So it will be better for the fish, for the flowers and even the canal water is better for it.

"It's absolutely a job that needs to be done and we will try to get it done without any real problems."

The work follows a period of dredging last year which also led to a footpath diversion.

The trust said that increasing the depth of the canal will make life easier for the fish and plants in the water.

The 2km section of the canal through Newport was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1986 for its plant life which included various species of pondweed, yellow water-lily, frog-bit and corn clubrush, but in the years since, siltation has led to a loss of water depth.

Preserve

Last year the Shropshire Wildlife Trust launched the Newport Canal SSSI Recovery Project, backed by funding from Natural England and the European Fund for Rural Development for the Water Environment Grant, to preserve fish and plants in the canal.

Back in April the wooden bridge at the Vineyard Road end of the canal was restored to its correct position after being moved askew by vandals, who were described at the time by Councillor Scott as “total fools”.

Cuan Wildlife Rescue Centre was called in to care for cygnets belonging to the canal’s resident swans in May, after a battle between a protective adult male swan and an over-inquisitive coot led to trampled eggs and the death of some cygnets.

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