Hundreds of fish will be rescued from the Kennet & Avon Canal this Thursday (21 February), as the charity that looks after the canal carries out vital restoration and repairs to lock gates in Bath.
The Canal & River Trust is completing work on locks 7-13 on Bath Flight, which includes the second deepest lock in the country. Sections of the canal need to be completely drained of water in order to complete the work. The fish, including bream and perch, will be stunned with an electric pulse before being netted and rehomed on another section of the canal.
Robert Eaton, project manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Bath flight is right in the heart of the city and hugely popular, with thousands of people visiting it each year. Every winter we carry out essential maintenance work on the canals and rivers and in this case some of the lock gates are in need of a bit of TLC.
“It is quite an extensive operation, but one we are well used to dealing with. Our specialist fish rescue contractors use a low electric pulse which stuns the fish. They are then netted and moved to a safe part of the canal.
“The Trust, with the help of thousands of volunteers, is responsible for maintaining and improving the nation’s waterways. We spend around £50m nationwide every winter on lock gate replacements, brick work repairs, as well as embankment maintenance, works on reservoirs and many other activities. It is painstaking work, involving engineering, heritage and environment expertise. But with the canals and rivers playing such an important role in local communities and being home to such an array of wildlife, it is important work and well worth it.”
Following the fish rescue, the repair work will take place at locks 7-13 on Bath Flight, which begins just over Halfpenny Bridge behind the train station. The fish rescue will be completed this weekand the lock repairs expected to be complete by the middle of March.
Locks 8 and 9 in Bath were merged, creating the second deepest lock in the country. The huge chamber is 19ft 5ins (5.92metres) deep.
In all £50m is being invested by the Trust on conservation and maintenance works this winter across 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, replacing 104 lock gates and undertaking other essential repairs.
For more information about the Trust’s winter maintenance programme visit http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/our-work/major-works/winter-works An audio tour of Bath Lock Flight is available at http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/bath-flight/history-of-the-kennet-and-avon-canal-in-bath