WORK to protect habitats and heritage on a picturesque East Yorkshire canal has secured a £496,600 windfall.

The funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is for the Pocklington Canal, which runs for 9.5 miles between Canal Head, near Pocklington to the River Derwent in East Cottingwith, will help improve conditions for important species and restore two historic bridges.

The project will also involve a programme of events and activities to encourage people to get involved, learn new skills and explore the canal.

It is run by the Canal & River Trust, in partnership with the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society, Natural England, the East & North Yorkshire Waterways Partnership and East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and will benefit from a total £682,585 investment with additional funding from the Trust and Natural England.

Most of the canal falls within one of three Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is important for aquatic plants, birds, waterfowl, and invertebrates – including 13 species of dragonfly and damselfly.

Sections of the canal will be dredged, and overgrown reed cut back while repairs and repointing work will be done on the Grade-II Listed Church Bridge, which is deteriorating through age and has been damaged by crossing vehicles.

The works will also be used as an opportunity to train volunteers in heritage skills such as using traditional lime mortar.

Swing Bridge number 7, in Melbourne, will be restored back to a design that resembles its original. The structure is one of eight moveable bridges which were built for use by landowners whose land had been cut in two by the construction of the canal.

A project officer will be appointed to coordinate a programme of community events, walks and talks, traditional skills workshops, educational opportunities and even a festival to mark the canal’s 200 year anniversary.

Jon Horsfall, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust, said: “The Pocklington Canal is full of unique character and that’s what this project is all about; protecting and improving the wildlife and historical features that make the canal so special and nationally important, but doing it in a way that is sympathetic and in keeping with its valuable heritage.

“We’re delighted that the HLF are supporting our work and we’re looking forward to getting started. The really great aspect of this project is the opportunities it will present for people to get involved.”

Natural England chief executive, James Cross, said: “I’m so excited by this tremendous opportunity to improve the Pocklington Canal, both for its wildlife and for those who value and visit this special place.”

Alistair Anderson, of the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society, said: “The Lottery funding will greatly improve the canal between Canal Head and Melbourne, which is very overgrown at present. It will also increase the heritage value of the canal and complement the Society’s own restoration scheme.”