We're working on almost two miles of canal between Portland Basin in Ashton-Under-Lyne and Stalybridge town centre.
The cutting back of overgrowth started in early December and is due to be finished in time for the festive holiday. Large trees have been making it difficult for boats to get along the canal in certain areas so this will come as welcome news for boaters as well as benefiting local rare plant species.
Tom King, Canal & River Trust ecologist, explained: “This section of waterway is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and removal of over-hanging branches means rare plants such as water-starwort, water violets and unbranched bur-reed will be allowed to flourish again. If it's not kept in check, heavy shading over the water stifles aquatic plant growth and can even lead to some plants dying back completely.”
Complementing the vegetation clearance project is a ‘Community Roots' scheme to improve the waterway itself by removing rubbish and engaging with local people who live along its banks.
Funded by players of the People's Postcode Lottery and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the scheme involves a monthly clean up led by the Trust, in partnership with volunteers. The Wooden Canal Boat Society, the Huddersfield Canal Society, Stalybridge Clean Team and other local volunteers were all involved in the first clean-up in September.
Working with grappling hooks, the group managed to pull out three van loads of bikes, scooters and 24 shopping trolleys. In October on a different stretch the haul was even greater and also included road work signs, a fence panel, a wheelchair, a suitcase and two prams.