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Ecologically sensitive dredging

For the Montgomery Canal, we have gone an extra step to design site specific dredging programme that will help us to strike the balance needed between open water and the fringe habitat.

Bringing back the canals vital open water space

A depth of 1.35 meters at the centre of the channel, where possible, helps to create the deeper water that is home to the submerged-floating aquatic species. The deep water also reduces the speed at which the fringe habitat can recolonise the central channel.

Dredging to this depth also better allows nature to sit alongside navigation of a channel; reduced silt at the bottom of the navigable channel, reduces turbidity as a boat moves through. It also allows us to maximise open water space for the aquatic species to exist.

Leaving a buffer of the fringe habitat, also has multiple benefits. It creates a biodiverse corridor for numerous invertebrates, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. It is also the most natural form of buffer you can get for protecting the soft banks of the canal from erosion, as well as acting as natural filtration for water coming from adjacent land into the canal.

A cross section of canal - dredged to a profile suiting wildlife and navigation

Taking a phased approach to dredging

Whilst 4 miles of dredging works is possible to achieve in one winter in many places, we are working with the sensitivities of the site to come up with a phased approach. This will allow us to collect and protect any of the important plant species in the channel, ready for return post-works. It also means that the site has time to recover between works, meaning minimal disturbance to the wildlife of the area. It is a similar process to dredging of other parts of our canal network that sit under SSSI and/or SAC status, such as the Rochdale Canal.

We manage 2,000 miles of canal including 60 SSSI sites and work with specialist individuals with extensive ecological expertise who support all our work and we are lucky to have a dedicated team on this project. We also work closely with Natural Resources Wales, the regulator, to ensure that all work we do adheres to the necessary legal requirements and environmental guidelines, minimising any negative impacts on the ecosystem.

Last Edited: 30 June 2023

photo of a location on the canals
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