Newport Canal SSSI Recovery Project

The Black Shed, Newport Canal, Shropshire

Newport-Norbury Branch Canal was completed in 1835. Following the arrival of the railways, canal trade declined slowly until 1921, and ceased here by 1929.  In 1944 the London, Midland and Scottish railway Company gave up the canal and it passed mainly into private hands

Parts of the canal route has been infilled and degraded but in 1966 the section through Newport was restored to water. By 1986 the canal was supporting a rare plant community, forming a high quality and much loved green space through the town. Also in 1986 the linear waterway of the canal and its wetland margins were declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), giving it national recognition and protection. Since that time sadly the range and number of rare aquatic plants has been in steady decline. This is chiefly due to poor quality water and a loss of water depth from siltation. More info on the SSSI can be found here:…

The good news is that we applied to the Water Environment Grant, organised by Natural England, and have been successful in receiving funding from The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (Europe investing in rural areas), to help towards restoration of the upper two sections of the canal SSSI. 

Shropshire Wildlife Trust are / will be working with:
> Telford & Wrekin Council
> Natural England
> The Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust
> Angling societies
> The public
> The Environment Agency
> Severn Trent
> Contractors 
> Harper Adams University (student dissertation)

The project will comprise:
> Consultation
> Fishery surveys
> Summer botanical surveys: years 1&2
> Protected species surveys: years 1&2
> Precise & careful silt dredging of sections: early winter, years 1&2
> Water quality assessments: years 1&2
> Information board installation

The first public consultation was held on Tuesday 21st May 2019, in Cosy Hall, alongside the canal. We will be looking into comments and queries made and making adjustments as necessary. Soon, the wildlife and water quality will begin, so we can build a picture of the canal in its present state, compare it to the past, and finalise decisions on the best way forward. 

How might the works affect you? 

•Towpaths Sections: possible temporary closure/diversions. We will strive to keep them open!

•Fish need to be moved to other sections

•Large machinery needs to gain access e.g. for dredging

•Dredged silt will be spread across nearby rough ground and may produce an odour for a few days.

•The water may initially look cloudy and barren after dredging, and may cause an algal bloom through release of disturbed nutrients

•People will be wandering around with clipboards, wildlife survey sheets, water testing kits, aquatic survey kits etc.

Swan & cygnets

How can you help/be involved?

You are the eyes and ears for this special site!

•Submit your Wildlife Sightings

–Please submit general sightings to iRecord:

If you are unsure or may have a rare sighting, you can check with a local expert. Contact details via the Shropshire Ecology Data Network:

If you see anything you are concerned about, please get in touch. Contact:

•Environment Agency for pollution incidents: 0800 80 70 60 

•Telford & Wrekin Council for any waste/ fly tipping:


We all know slugs love tasty young leaves in our gardens! Try coarse grit, beer traps, copper tape, nematodes and encourage natural predators. •Older-style metaldehyde-based pellets are being phased out as they are poisonous to many kinds of other wildlife, including dogs and hedgehogs. •Metaldehyde from gardens is found in the Strine Brook, which feeds into the canal, affecting wildlife. •If you feel you need to use slug pellets, please make the switch to ferric phosphate-based pellets. 

Other ways you can get involved include:

Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust run regular work parties to help take care of the canal:

30 Days Wild: sign up & get your goody pack here:

Join the #WilderFuture campaign:

Look out for the new SWT River Health Checker App: coming soon!

Check out the SWT page on Non Native Invasive species:


Another big ask is: We love dogs like you, and we know they love the water. But if you really love the special wildlife in the canal, it would be great if you can keep them out of the water – thanks! There’s also the potential for a blue-green algae bloom following the dredging, which is toxic to dogs.

Smooth Newt

When will you see improvements?

•We hope to see the turbid waters settle, substrates stabilise and biodiversity start to improve after about a year.

•Close monitoring will be needed to ensure re-colonisation is by appropriate species rather than non-native invasive species.

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