£152,000 dredging for wildlife on non-navigable canal

Published: Wednesday, 15 November 2017

THE Canal & River Trust is spending £152,000 on dredging part of the unused section of the Pocklington Canal for the benefit of its wildlife.

The Pocklington Canal boasts a small trip boat that operated along the five miles navigable section from its junction with the Derwent to the Melbourne Arm in summer, but little else.

Very few boats make it

Very few boats make it to the Pocklington Canal, that has a length restriction, with access via the tidal  Ouse and then the Derwent via Barmby Barrage, where water level is a problem.  A Derwent Boat Certificate must be obtained.

This week, work begins on the £152,000 dredging project with a special amphibious digger purchased to remove approximately 8,000 tonnes of silt that will be re-distributed to a nearby arable farm.


We are told that by clearing silt and reeds from the centre of the canal to create an open channel, the Trust will ensure that rare aquatic plants and wildlife living on and along the canal continue to thrive. Unlike many of the Canal & River Trust’s other dredging projects, which primarily help to keep the network of canals open to boats, the work on the Pocklington Canal is taking place in the non-navigable upper reaches of the canal. The main focus is to help wildlife, while also contributing to the overall vision to make more of the canal navigable.

The Pocklington Canal is one of the UK’s best canals for wildlife, with the majority of its length protected through three Site(s) of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), due to the variety of important aquatic plants that live below and above the water surface.  However, this diversity of aquatic plants has been in decline over the years, partly due to dominance of common reed and over shading by trees. Dredging will create areas of open water, helping to reverse this decline and in turn see an increase in other wildlife such as dragonflies.

15 species of dragonflies

As many as 15 species of dragonflies and damselflies live on the canal, which is one of the most northern sites on the Trust’s canal network to show such diversity of species. In addition to protecting the wildlife in the canal, the Trust has also implemented an annual hay raking regime in order to increase flower diversity, and to attract bees and other pollinators.