The Shropshire Union Canal Society has announced that restoration work on the Montgomery Canal is to resume following the enforced cessation due to Covid 19.
The lockdown followed an incredibly wet winter and seriously affected plans to complete the remaining dry section of the channel, to link the national network with the newly constructed winding hole terminus at Crickheath in 2021. Now, however, planning is taking place to resume activities in August, albeit, with a much more regimented and selective approach than before.
Detailed, specific tasks will be calendared, and only those essential volunteers needed, will be attending these dedicated work parties which will now take place twice a month between August and December, so that the revised target of a 2021 completion date will be achieved.
Preparatory work on this 330 metre section began in January 2019 to remove trees and vegetation in preparation for the installation of Great Crested Newt Fencing.
A period of Great Crested Newt entrapment then followed from February up to June 2019.
Ecologists handed this section over to the Shropshire Union Canal Society in June 2019, and now that Great Crested Newts have been removed from the site, ground work began until March of this year.
Due to the unstable nature of the ground, which has a deep bed of peat and sections of running sand, a decision was taken to engage contractors, starting in July, to conduct the complex remedial work needed in two specific, sunken, areas, to catch up with the considerable amount of lost time.
This will allow the other tasks such as installing a land drain, and some shaping and lining to continue when we resume.
The following conditions will apply to volunteers, classified by the NHS as High Risk, who will not be allowed on site until national clearance is given. Medium Risk volunteers will be advised to attend later in the year. The number of volunteers will be kept to a minimum and a strict code of working practice will be observed, including face masks, appropriate PPE and rigorous regime of disinfection.
There is obviously a deep sense of frustration regarding the enforced lay-off, but the contingency measures being devised, plus the incredible will, and enthusiasm, of volunteers will see the project through to completion.