Kennet and Avon canal banks in Wiltshire repaired using 'green method'

Kennet and Avon Canal Image copyright Canal and River Trust
Image caption The bank is being rebuilt using clean dredgings from the canal

Repairs to a long stretch of a Wiltshire canal towpath, which was at risk of disappearing, are under way using a "green method".

Just over one mile (2km) of the bank along the 87-mile (140km) Kennet and Avon canal near Pewsey - an important water vole habitat - was badly eroded.

Oda Dijksterhuis, from the Canal and River Trust, said the method used clean canal dredgings and coconut fibres.

She said they also wanted to rebuild another half-mile stretch of bank.

Ms Dijksterhuis said the "green method" being used to rebuild the bank was similar to one used 250 years ago in which the roots of tussock sedges, a grass-like plant, "knitted the banks together".

Image copyright Canal and River Trust
Image caption The trust also hopes to reconstruct some of the towpath

Explaining the modern version, she said: "The soft bank is rebuilt using clean dredgings from the canal, topped with a coconut fibre roll and planted with a variety of local reeds.

"The existing bank with towpath had begun to slip towards the canal at some points and by using this green method, we also create a brilliant home for wildlife such as dragonflies, butterflies and nesting birds."

She said it was a cost-effective alternative to installing a hard-edged bank made of steel piling.

She said that the trust also hoped the improvements would encourage water voles - one of the UK's most endangered species - to make a home in the stretch of the canal between Pains Bridge and Milkhouse Water.

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