Great progress again on all fronts. The last month has seen a lot of progress with great turnouts across a number of locations. Roger and team have been attacking the ivy growing on trees at Sandiacre and Keith and team led ably by David have been cutting grass and trimming back at Borrowash, Spondon and Sandiacre. There is a renewed focus on Sandiacre as we prepare for another attack on the lock We now have a first estimate for the cost of sewer diversion (a mere £200k!) so we will be haggling and looking to get additional funds to move it forward. However Severn Trent don’t move quickly, they think it would take them about a year to do it.
Just one potential problem reported. Our lock had been cut off at Station Road Borrowash and a rogue van was seen exploring the line westwards. A new lock was then fitted in place of our own. Keith and team have identified the problem and replaced the lock. I hope the potential campers have got the message, but any members in the area are asked to keep their eyes peeled and report any strange goings on.
Work continues apace at the Cottages with the current challenge being coordination of trades and volunteers. Contractors have now completed the paved areas behind the buildings on two elevations. We have had our painting army in action and they have now caught up with the plasterers. Plastering has been our nemesis during the last month—they pulled off site with a week of work to complete and we only now expect them back to complete the job. We also had a false start with screeding (final layer of concrete on the ground floors) —contractors were ready on site to lay it in all three cottages only to find the materials supplier had no cement. Apparently HS2 is gobbling up supplies across the country.
On a more positive note Don, Derek, Brian and others have replaced two floors and floorboarding is well under way and we’ve completed the slating of the outside toilets. You’ll also see that external doors are being fitted so the building looks much more complete. We have lights and power throughout the first two cottages and radiators are being fitted as I write this.
David Savidge has been working again with Waterway Recovery Group to get a week long visit in the first week of August. This would be the first event for them since lockdown, so they are very concerned about Covid safety. We are considering letting them take over the cottages as there’s more room to occupy there and we may get more volunteers as a result. We have a shopping list of what needs to be done at the cottages to allow this—fortunately the list isn’t too long and coincides pretty. As I mentioned in the last update we won’t be selling the cottages now, but are instead raising supporters loans paying 3% interest. If you are interested in helping contact our treasurer Derek on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details, but be quick as we intend to close it off in the next few weeks.
We have better news on the Draycott section as well. We have now received the bulk of moneys from Network Rail and have recommissioned the works to start on 14th June. Eddy and Di have ben exploring water vole burrows with our ecologists and I’m pleased to say it looks as if numbers are not as high as feared and we will therefore be able to manage them in the area available. Hopefully by the end of July we will have a section of canal ready and fenced to take the voles in the autumn. There will be substantial effort needed by volunteers to plant up the area to create habitat once the work is complete.
Derby River Boat
Mike Wingfield and I have been pressing the Council for movement, but with no real progress. They are adamant we need to licence the boat and get any “boatmen” registered before launching. This means we need a BSS inspection – August is the earliest as everyone is catching up after Lockdown and inspectors are very busy. Boatmen will also need to prove they are trained to RYA standard, are fit and safe with children, etc. And of course each element incurs cost and takes time. Their focus is as ever on making sure nothing can go wrong rather than pushing forward with improvements.
At least we have some points of contact who are responsive, even if the answers aren’t always the ones we want. In the meantime we are testing the boat in home waters on the Trent so that we are ready. We have now added navigation lights and a top notch security system. We have also added natural jute fenders made at Sawley.
I’d like to welcome Tom Harrington, who has taken on the lead for ecology for us. We have been talking with the IWA about the Biodiversity Net Gain programme. This requires all developers to leave ecology better after any development. We believe we can use this to get developers to fund our work we give them some ecology gain to offset the damage that houses may do. Tom’s immediate plan is to identify areas where our canal can improve habitat so that we can offer the benefits to developers of nearby sites as they arise. We hope to provide some examples with IWA help, which will set us up and provide working examples for other waterways restorations around the country.
I also think he wants to find other members with a special interest in ecology to assist him.