MONTGOMERY Canal has been given a huge boost after receiving a £320,000 grant from the People's Postcode Lottery.

The money is being used for a dredging and vegetation management programme.

During March and April, over 1¼ miles of un-navigable waterway has benefited from a major excavation of the overgrown channel, removal of dead and fallen trees, trimming of overgrown trees and vegetation, and extensive bank repairs.

This will create clearer, more oxygenated water, which in turn promotes the growth of healthy plants and animals.

Amongst the species to benefit will be the endangered water vole, as well as dragonflies and the rare aquatic plant Floating Water Plantain Luronium natans.

The work is being carried out in two sections between Refail Bridge 129 and Bridge 132, just south of Berriew, and Maerdy Bridge 102 to Bridge 103 in Arddleen.

Both are designated as a Site of Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Mark Weatherall, project manager with the Canal & River Trust, said: "It is vitally important to keep the Montgomery Canal in good health.

"If the water channel becomes choked with weeds, the water quality quickly deteriorates and becomes stagnant.

"By creating deeper, clearer fresh water channels, plants can flourish and create healthy habitats for fish, insects and small mammals. Biodiversity is greatly improved and the deeper channels actually inhibit the growth of weeds in the main channel resulting in better water flows throughout the canal.”

The work is being carried out by contractors, Ebsford Environmental and will be finished by the end of April.

Known for its outstanding natural beauty, wildlife and heritage, the Montgomery Canal runs for 35 miles between England and Wales and is currently only partly navigable.

It is hoped that it will be restored to being fully navigable in the future.