£98k grant to aid vital canal work
Vital conservation work will be carried out on the Newport Canal thanks to a £98,000 grant.
The money will be spent on restoring the site's ecological condition and work will involve public consultation, ecological surveys, conservation dredging, water quality protection and access improvements.
The canal is an important habitat for some of the UK's rarest aquatic plant species and was designated a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) in 1986.
A natural build up of soil and plant matter on the canal bed over the last 30 years has meant a lower water depth and poorer conditions, resulting in a decline in variety of rare water plants and aquatic creatures.
Telford & Wrekin Council officers along with Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England have been working to raise much-needed funds to restore the canal’s original conditions to encourage the return of the areas wildlife.
Councillor John Minor, Cabinet member for leisure, green spaces and parks said: “This is great news for canal wildlife and Newport residents alike.
“This initiative is focused on restoring and improving habitats - making sites better for wildlife and consequently more diverse and enjoyable for the communities that value them."
Pete Lambert, river projects manager at Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Some 80 per cent of the UK’s SSSI canals are in poor or unfavourable condition, the rare aquatic plants that colonised the canal network after the closures are now lost again.
“It gives me great personal pleasure to hear we have made a successful bid to restore the rare water plant life to at least one of these remarkable man-made waterways."
Vicki Howden, lead advisor freshwater ecology for Natural England said: “Natural England is really delighted to support this exciting project that will see the Newport Canal restored to a diverse and healthy SSSI that sits right in the heart of the community.
“Protected sites represent the best examples of our natural environment and returned to its former glory this outstanding site will be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Mayor of Newport, Councillor Peter Scott said: “We have been long standing supporters of the canal trust and welcome this investment.
“This grant will mean a great step forward in bringing wildlife right back right into the heart of our community and enhancing the natural environment with diverse plant and animal life.
“The canal is already a special part of Newport’s identity and this scheme will only enrich our town. I am excited to see this project move forward and happy to get my hands dirty and lend a hand.”
Councillor Tim Nelson, who represents Newport North and West on Telford & Wrekin Council, said: "This is fantastic news for lovers of the canal.
"We know the canal is silting up and that the bottom is too near the top for helath fish diversity. The water is too turbid and the shallow water threatens the very bottom dwelling rare plants that gave the SSSI in the first place.
"This is very good news for Newport, and those who love walking, boating and the town's heritage."
Public consultation will start in May to help pick priorities for the work.
'Danger to life' warnings remain in place for Shrewsbury as all trains set to cease in and out of town
LIVE UPDATES: Two 'danger to life' flood warnings in Shropshire as 400 tons of water a second approaches Shrewsbury