Vital dredging keeps Sharpness Dock clear for high level of traffic
8:02am Sunday 20th October 2013 in News
THE FINAL stage of a project to dredge around 10,000 tonnes of silt from the bed and approaches to Sharpness Docks is being completed next week.
The Canal and River Trust, which owns the docks and cares for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, has been carrying out the work to make it easier to navigate for the hundreds of ships and boats that visit every year.
The dredging project, which started in September, ensures that the inland port continues to allow passage from the River Severn and Gloucester and Sharpness Canal to the rest of the world.
At the height of its use in the 19th early 20th centuries, the dock was used by boats transporting cargo of grain and timber to Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Today it remains busy with around 500,000 tonnes of cargo passing through and it is also an important route for leisure boats entering the UK’s inland waterways.
A dredger has been used to flush the sediment away by raising it from the bed, suspending it in the water, before it is dispersed back into the Severn Estuary where most of it comes from.
Waterway manager Nick Worthington said dredging was vital if the docks were to be kept in shape for the high volume of traffic.
“It is a hugely important location for businesses and boaters in this region, we’ve spent over £200,000 this year to ensure the water depth is correct, and we are pleased that the work has gone so well,” he said.
Gloucester Harbour Trustee spokesman Mike Johnson said modern coastal ships visiting the port were growing in size so maintaining the depths within the dock was paramount.
“Sharpness provides a significant gateway into the Midlands and the South West for goods arriving by sea from Europe and North Africa,” he said.
“The regular maintenance dredging work carried out by the trust is an ongoing requirement which enables these ships to access the berths and manoeuvre in safely."
The River Severn estuary is a Special Area of Conservation and a European Marine Site and the Trust has worked alongside the Environment Agency and Natural England to ensure the dredging is sympathetic to the surrounding environment.
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