The work, which is costing us £1million and will last two years, will focus on areas along the Kennet & Avon Canal where boaters are having difficulty mooring, navigating through bridges or getting stuck on the approach to locks. In total around 21,000 tonnes of silt – which is the same in weight as over 4,000 elephants – will be removed from the canal.
Using a floating dredger, silt and debris which has built up along the bottom of the canal over a number of years, will be removed from the bottom of the waterway. Once collected the silt will be recycled to agricultural land alongside the canal.
The project will also involve installing water vole friendly coir rolls which are soft mats made from recycled coconut husks. These protect the canal bank from erosion whilst allowing water voles to burrow into to make homes. It is hoped that the mats will connect different colonies of endangered water voles and so help to boost their numbers.
Paul Fox, from the Trust, said: "We've already started dredging along the canal near Crofton and should be finished by Christmas. After Christmas we plan to start dredging in the Horton area and will be in this area for a few weeks.
"We plan to recycle as much of the silt as possible to agricultural land which has the benefit of being both environmentally friendly and cheaper."