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News article created on 15 December 2014

Protecting rare aquatic plants on the Grantham Canal

A dredging project aimed at improving water quality and encouraging rare aquatic plants to thrive on the Grantham Canal is underway.

We do have to give Mother Nature a helping hand from time-to-time e Hoelmer, enterprise manager

We are dredging silt from a 6km stretch of the canal to protect important habitats.

The stretch of canal is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because it offers ideal conditions for important aquatic plants to thrive.

The £179,000 project, between Harby and Redmile in the Vale of Belvoir, will reduce the amount of silt on the canal bed ensuring a healthy slow flow of water which plants, like the nationally scarce Grasswrack Pondweed, need to thrive.

Healthy, slow flow of water

The dredging will also help to manage the growth of reeds which can over-dominate and make it difficult for other aquatic plants to compete. The dredging will create a 1.2m channel in the middle of the canal which will allow the all-important flow of water between the reeds along the bank. 

At the same time as the dredging, students from Brooksby Melton College are currently propagating Grasswrack Pondweed which will be introduced into the canal in the spring when it’s hoped it will become established and spread.

Funding

Funding for the project has come in the form of a £100,000 grant awarded by The Veolia Environmental Trust through the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF), and £10,000 from Melton Borough Council. The remainder has been provided by the Canal & River Trust.

The LCF is a vital source of funding that lets waste companies retain a small part of their Landfill Tax bill so that it can be awarded to community and environmental projects.

The works are being carried out by contractors Land & Water and will continue up until Christmas.

One of our most cherished waterways

Lucie Hoelmer, enterprise manager for the Canal & River Trust said; “The Grantham Canal is a really special place for wildlife making it one of the nation’s most cherished waterways.

“However, whilst it looks idyllic we do have to give Mother Nature a helping hand from time-to-time to make sure that particular species – such as reeds – don’t over-dominate and harm the overall ecology of the canal. 

“This project will help to maintain a nice healthy flow of water through the canal, encouraging some of our most threatened aquatic plants to thrive and ensuring that the canal remains a really special place to visit.”

The Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, Paul Taylor, added, “It is great to hear that this important project will be starting soon. I look forward to hearing about its progress over the coming months and seeing this stretch of canal thriving once again.”