Work has begun on a landmark dredging project to help transform Pocklington Canal.
This is the first time in more than a century that two sections of the nine-mile canal are being dredged.
The £152,000 project aims to finish just before Christmas and is led by the Canal and River Trust, the charity that cares for the Pocklington Canal as part of its 2,000-mile network of historic waterways.
A special amphibious digger will remove approximately 8,000 tonnes of nutrient-rich silt (equivalent to the weight of 2,285 elephants) that will be re-distributed to a nearby arable farm.
By clearing silt and reeds from the centre of the canal to create an open channel, the operation will ensure that rare aquatic plants and wildlife living on and along the canal continue to thrive.
The main focus is to help wildlife, while also contributing to the overall vision to make more of the canal navigable to canoeists and boaters.
The canal, which celebrates its bicentenary next year, is one of the UK’s best canals for wildlife.
The majority of its length is protected through three Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), due to the variety of important aquatic plants that live below and above the water surface – soft hornwort, flat-stalked pondweed, narrow-leaved water-plantain, flowering-rush, fan-leaved water-crowfoot, flowering rush and arrowhead.
The Pocklington Canal dredging works is funded through the Canal and River Trust’s Gem in the Landscape project – a three-year programme of activity supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Lizzie Dealey, Gem in the Landscape project officer at Canal and River Trust said: “Largely unchanged since it opened in 1818, Pocklington Canal is a real hidden gem. This dredging project is a pivotal moment in our three-year vision to help transform this historically and environmentally important waterway through wildlife habitat improvements, heritage restoration activities and family-friendly events leading up to and during the waterway’s bicentenary next year.”