Union Canal: Enhanced inspection of full length of canal as clay dams are completed

Temporary clay dams to stop the flow of water are now complete

The breach happened in the early hours of Wednesday morning.  (Pic: Scottish Canals)
The breach happened in the early hours of Wednesday morning. (Pic: Scottish Canals)

Enhanced inspections are being carried out by Scottish Canals along the full length of the Union Canal to identify whether any other sections have been damaged by the recent extreme weather conditions.

The news comes following a breach of the canal in the Whitecross and Muiravonside area which saw a 30 metre section of the towpath and embankment washed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning during torrential rain and thunderstorms in the area.

Water running from the canal has had a major impact on the main Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line, forcing all train services to be suspended for what looks set to be a number of weeks.

Since the breach was discovered the Scottish Canals team have been working around the clock to stem the flow of water passing through the breach.

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And in an update on Friday morning, they have confirmed temporary clay dams have now been completed and work is ongoing to restore water levels along the canal and to progress a fish rescue.

The canal is expected to be closed to both towpath and boating traffic in the area for some time while permanent repairs are carried out.

The towpath is currently closed between the A801 bridge and the Vellore Road bridge.

A statement from Scottish Canals said: “Yesterday (Thursday) our team finished installing temporary clay dams to completely stop the flow of water through the breach near Polmont on the Union Canal.

" However, we expect the canal to remain closed at this location for some time until a permanent repair is carried out.

“We are carrying out enhanced inspections along the full length of the Union Canal to identify whether other sections may have been damaged by the recent severe weather.

“We are working to restore water levels along the canal, which dropped due to the breach and we are working with contractors to progress a fish rescue that will involve safely moving any trapped fish to unaffected sections of the canal.

“The towpath remains closed for safety reasons with barriers preventing public access and signage is in place at access points onto and off the towpath either side of the breach clearly indicating the closure.

"We are also investigating whether a towpath diversion is feasible.

“A number of boating customers have been affected and we are working on ways to support them as best we can.

"While local boat movements remain possible either side of the breach, The Union Canal will remain closed to through traffic for some time.

“The severe weather that Scotland experienced this week was exceptional.

"However we recognise that the incident has affected the wider community, stakeholders and customers and we would like to reassure everyone that our teams are working hard to address the situation and thank everyone for their ongoing patience.”

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