UNION CANAL, LINLITHGOW – DEWATERING
Scottish Canals have notified the SFCA that they will be undertaking a ground investigation project in Linlithgow. The project will involve several boreholes being drill along the canal. In order to minimise risk of water leakage from the canal, Scottish Canals intend to dewater a 5050m section of canal from Bridge 42 (Wilcoxholm; NGR 301970 677143) and Bridge 48 (Woodcockdale; 297408 675823). It is anticipated that the water volume will be reduced by 73% and a fish rescue will be undertaken by consultants APEM using electro-fishing. APEM has many years of experience in undertaking fish rescues in canal environments and has undertaken fish rescues previously on the Forth & Clyde Canal, the Crinan Canal and at The Falkirk Wheel. APEM’s codes of practice for disinfection follow DEPFA, CEFAS, Natural England and Forestry Commission guidelines. The equipment used for the fish rescue maintains the welfare of the fish during the rescue operation, in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. The fish will be relocated in the adjacent watered section of canal. Water will be over-pumped through the dewatered section to maintain a flow through the canal while the ground investigation work is undertaken. The project will run for six weeks from 9 January until 17 February.
The setup for the dewatering will start on 9th January with the dewatering expected to start mid-week. The fish rescue will commence on the 16th January. SFCA representatives and Canalside Ranger, Linton McBurnie, will be on site to monitor the fish rescue. Clearly fish rescue and relocation along such a large length of canal represents significant challenges and there will undoubtedly, in such a productive stretch of the canal, be a large head of fish that are missed by the fish rescue. The SFCA shares the concerns of local anglers about the significant risk of fish losses, mainly through the predation of these remaining stocks while the water level is so low and the fish have no available cover. We would urge anglers who regularly fish the canal in this area to visit the canal during this period and to report and concentrations of fish or high level predation incidents to Linton McBurnie (07711 796305) or SFCA Chairman, Gus Brindle (07812 241816) so that steps can be taken to try to minimise the impact.
As part of the project, Scottish Canals will also be holding two community drop-in events to allow members of the public to come along, see the canal as they’ve probably never seen it before, chat with their team, and find out a little more about the engineering, heritage, and wildlife of the Union Canal and the work they undertake to safeguard its rich heritage. You can find more information on the sessions on their website (http://www.scottishcanals.co.uk). Again, we would urge local anglers to take the opportunity to attend these events.
Finally, the SFCA has received numerous requests of information from clubs and anglers about what restocking/restoration activity will be taken after the works are complete to restore the fish stocks to their current levels. We have addressed these questions to Scottish Canals and will inform local clubs and anglers of their response as soon as we have received it and post details on both our website and Facebook pages.
Gus Brindle, Chairman