Project to boost boating and ecology on Oxford Canal

A MAJOR improvement project carried out by the Canal & River Trust along the Oxford Canal has seen over 400m of the canal bank rebuilt from above Elizabeth Jennings Way northwards to opposite St Edwards School.

The Trust invested over £400,000 to install metal piles into the bank to reinforce it. Eco-friendly coir rolls were then placed on top and silt from the canal bed used to back-fill any gaps. Over 40 wooden platforms were also fitted, which will help boaters to get on and off their boats safely.

Wooden platforms to boats along the Oxford Canal where the bank has been rebuilt. PHOTO: CRT

Crucially the new banking has been built in a way to make it possible for new habitat to be created by species such as water voles, which are one of the most endangered mammals in the UK.

Work began in January and has been completed ahead of schedule. It is part of a programme of improvements to the Oxford Canal, which has also recently seen a significant graffiti clearance carried out by the Trust and volunteers.

Adrian Honeybill, Canal & River Trust senior project manager, said: “We’re really pleased to have completed this project. It’s got three major benefits: reinforcing the stability of the canal; improving access from the towpath to people’s boats; and creating new habitat for endangered wildlife. It’s been a significant investment, but that is testament to the importance and the potential of the Oxford Canal.

“As a charity we know that when we are able to improve our canals, they can be better enjoyed and bring a range of economic, environmental and health benefits to communities. The Oxford Canal is still a largely undiscovered jewel for the city. It’s an amazing space, everything tends to slow down by the water, so it’s a perfect spot to visit and relax. We want everyone to come and discover what it can offer and will continue to work with our partners and local people to improve it further.”

Tim Wiseman, Oxford City Council Waterways Coordinator, welcomed the improvements, saying: “The completion of the bank works is a much-needed improvement to the Oxford Canal. For many years, these moorings have supported a diverse community of people who contribute to the city, living and working here. The bank works ensure that their moorings are safe and accessibility is improved, together with wider benefits to the environmental biodiversity value of the canal area.”

The Oxford Canal is over 200 years old and runs for more than 70 miles, beginning at Hythe Bridge Street in the city centre. Ongoing improvements to the Oxford Canal are part of a wider project with Oxford City Council and other partners.

For more information about the canal, or how you can support the work of the Canal & River Trust by volunteering or donating to the charity visit canalrivertrust.org.uk

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