AN ECOLOGIST with the Canal & River Trust (CRT) believes the regeneration of the Montgomery Canal could see the return of water voles.

Jenny Spelling, an ecologist with CRT – covering much of the Montgomery, Shropshire Union and part of the Trent and Mersey canals – painted a positive picture of a potential return for the animal, which is well represented in parts of other north Shropshire.

She says that projects funded by institutions such as the Heritage Lottery has helped pay for restoration and water vole numbers could rise in an area where mink are not active


She said: “Work to encourage these charming little creatures back to the canals is so very important as they are an integral part of our ecosystem.

“Their burrowing, feeding, and hiding places provide the conditions for other animal and plant life to flourish, and we are making good, if a little slow, progress.

“There have been several focused projects, one being the Green Recovery Challenge Fund with money from the Heritage Lottery which was a fund set up to kick start environmental renewal and was taken advantage of by CRT as they targeted suitable, mink free areas to create habitat.

“When I say, ‘mink free’ I mean areas where there has been no evidence or sightings of mink – it can’t be a precise science.

“There are already thriving colonies in Whitchurch and where the Montgomery joins the Llangollen canal at Frankton Junction.”

Jenny added that during the restoration of any canal there is much time, energy and money spent on mitigating for all species of plant and animal that may be affected by the work.

She said: “The Montgomery Canal is no exception with the three Aston Nature reserves, a good example of created habitat on a reasonably grand scale.

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“The restoration itself can also offers up opportunities for new habitats on the line of canal itself.

“The Montgomery canal is at a very exciting stage, just south of Crickheath Bridge, as the Shropshire Union Canal Society, the restoration contractors for CRT, have the chance to build tailor-made water vole habitat.

“Tom Fulda, the project manager, and his team are working with myself, another Ecologist, Glyn Stewart, and CRT on the design so the conditions that will attract water voles will be a part of the built structure and hopefully we will see results in the next couple of years.”