A waterways charity carrying out a £3 million repair programme after a canal breach following high rainfall has said that climate change is one of its biggest challenges.
The Canal & River Trust has begun repairs to the Aire & Calder Navigation, in East Yorkshire, after it was breached in December – causing a 20-metre section of embankment to be swept way and flooding nearby land.
A multi-agency response to the incident saw a helicopter placing 240 one-tonne bags of stone around the breach hole at Newbridge, near Goole, to help manage the water flow.
Permanent repairs have now begun at the site, after detailed investigations by engineers, which are expected to be completed by mid-August.
Sean McGinley, regional director at the Trust in Yorkshire and the North East, said: “One of the biggest challenges we face looking after our historic waterways is climate change and the increase of extreme weather events this brings.
“Last year our region was badly hit, with another major repair programme to Figure of Three Locks on the Calder & Hebble Navigation, costing £3.4 million.
“Following the installation of dams at the breach location, our engineers have been able to carry out a series of detailed site investigations at the drained site. A design solution has now been confirmed, which is going to cost our charity approximately £3 million.
“Repairs are becoming increasingly more expensive and complex in their design, to help robustly withstand future flood events, while working under the extra restrictions and challenges created by coronavirus.
“We apologise for the disruption the breach is causing to our waterway and towpath users and we are doing everything possible to get the navigation and towpath back open as soon as possible.”
The Aire & Calder Navigation dates back to 1704 when short canal cuts were added to the rivers Aire and Calder, making the Aire navigable between Knottingley and Leeds and the Calder from Wakefield to its junction with the Aire at Castleford.
It is now 34 miles long and continues to carry freight from the Humber ports.
For more information about the Canal & River Trust, go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk