The restoration work on Phase 2 has started. But it was, as someone once said, ‘a damned close run thing’. The last of the resident newts only condescended to vacate the channel three days before work started. Having got going, good weather allowed excellent progress to be made, and the Crickheath end of the channel is beginning to almost resemble a canal again.
Since the (professional) contractors are still working at Crickheath the Society had the unusual experience of sharing the working area with another organisation.
For purposes of the newt search the Phase 2 channel has been divided into five sections separated by drift fences. On Friday we had access to one area only – fortunately that adjacent to the access from Crickheath compound. The work followed the familiar routine of strimming down the vegetation, raking up and carting away the cut material, a search by an ecologist, repeat the last three steps followed by removal of tree stumps and topsoil. The whole process achieved the twin objectives of rendering the site uninhabitable to newts and removing surface organic matter
There were lots of tree stumps including some very large specimens indeed. These will in the course of the next few work parties be moved into the Crickheath compound pending disposal. There will be a similar process for the site strip material.
By end of work on Sunday about 75 metres of channel was cleared. The newts clearly took the hint because on the last day it became apparent that they had abandoned the next section. This permitted the destructive search to start in that area as well, as preparation for the next scheduled work party.
Elsewhere volunteers once more visited Frankton to attend to the flower beds. There was also the inevitable work on the ever increasing length of newt fence under our care – this time strimming to remove overhanging vegetation along a considerable length.
Off-site progress is being made in the channel design for Phase 2. The eventual solution will achieve the dual aims of addressing the problems in the areas of subsidence, and being capable of being built by volunteer labour.
The contractors still have a small presence at Crickheath doing snagging. The winding hole is finished and presently subject to a water test. It is now an impressive sight.