Volunteers working to create the new Fosseway Heath nature reserve

Lichfield’s canal trust is on target to complete the creation of a wetlands area as part of its plan for a nature reserve at Fosseway Heath.

Volunteers working to create the new Fosseway Heath nature reserve

In the past two weeks, 2,500 tonnes of clay and sandy soil have been moved to build a 100 metre diversion of the Lichfield Canal channel and towpath, a team of volunteers from Network Rail have built 57 metres of new towpath, and a boardwalk is taking shape through the wetlands area.

Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust began creating the Fosseway Heath Nature Reserve and Wetlands after receiving an £18,500 grant from the Postcode Local Trust, a grant-giving body funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

An eight-tonne EZ80 Excavator, loaned by Wacker Neuson based at Stafford, was used to move the dense sands and weak sandstone which had proved difficult in the past with even heavier machines.

The trust’s engineering director Peter Buck said: “The EZ80 has proven a very powerful and versatile workhorse which punches well above its weight and has been key in achieving the restoration goals of the Lichfield Canal Trust at Fosseway Heath.

“The Trust are most grateful to Wacker Neuson for the ongoing support to the restoration work of the Trust which results in so much benefit to the local community.”

Meanwhile, 30 members of Network Rail’s ‘orange army’ braved appalling weather to take forward the process of upgrading part of the offside Heritage Towpath Trail alongside the old canal bed.

The team completed a record-breaking 57 metres of new path which was opened at the end of the day for the many regular users from the local community.

“This first Network Rail corporate volunteer day was a great success and the Trust will build on the work undertaken by this great team,” said Peter.

“We look forward to seeing the many new friends made from Network Rail for a return visit in the summer.”

While all this was going on the trust’s own volunteers were dismantling the old canal wall in the wetlands area, building a new towpath wall and installing a boardwalk which will allow visitors to walk through the wetlands.

The reserve will play an important role in enhancing an established plan to recreate Staffordshire’s rare lowland heathland, providing another stepping stone for improving biodiversity.

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