Saturday, 10 July 2010


British Waterways, working with the Trustees of the Town and Manor of Hungerford and Natural England, will be carrying out a £400,000 project this summer to improve a section of the Kennet & Avon Canal to benefit canal users and local wildlife during this, the canal’s bicentenary year.

Over 1,500m of eroded canal bank will be reinstated and a 2,800m section of the canal from Cobblers Lock and Hungerford Swingbridge and also between Dun Mill Lock and Wire Lock will be dredged, removing around 5,000m3 of silt from the canal.

British Waterways’ ecologist, Oda Dijksterhuis, explains: “This area of the Kennet & Avon Canal is an important wildlife habitat, particularly for water voles. The works that we are undertaking along this stretch have been designed so that they balance the creation of a suitable ecological environment with the current use of the canal corridor.

“We will be recycling the dredged material from the canal and using it to create a more stable canal bank that water voles can also make a home in. These new banks will then be protected with pre-planted coir rolls that are made out of coconut husk. Any remaining dredgings will be spread on nearby agricultural land, as it makes great fertilizer too.”

The combination of dredging and coir roll planting will help to improve water quality in the canal, whilst the installation of new fencing will prevent cattle from walking on the towpath and eroding the banks.

The stabilisation of the bank will reduce the risk of water passing from the canal to the River Dunn and affecting the game fishery, and the dredging will improve the depth of the canal making it easier for boats to travel along this stretch of the waterway.

British Waterways’ Project Engineer, Paul Fox, explains: “This is a brilliant project that’s only been possible with the support and funding from Natural England and the Trustees of the Town and Manor of Hungerford.”

“The project will bring many benefits to the Kennet & Avon Canal during this its 200th anniversary year, and will create a safer, more accessible and wildlife friendly canal for the future.”

Robert James, a Trustee of the Town and Manor of Hungerford and Honorary Commons Secretary, said: “The Kennet & Avon Canal is a wonderful stretch of waterway, and a great asset to Hungerford. This important work will see much-needed maintenance work completed whilst also enhancing the wildlife habitat that we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep.”

Representatives from British Waterways will be on-hand at an exhibition explaining the works that are planned. You will be able to view plans and ask questions, as well as finding out ways that you could get involved with helping to protect the plants and the ecological habitat along this stretch of the canal at Hungerford Town Hall, between 10.00am and 4.00pm on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 July.

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