Dredging to remove around 30,000 tonnes of silt from the lake will start this week after North Somerset Council received the go-ahead to carry out the work.
Preparatory work has already started at the lake with dredging due to begin on Thursday (17th). A section of Knightstone Road by the lake will be closed from 7am to 5pm on Thursday to enable the dredging equipment to be moved on to the site. A diversion will be in place during this time.
Subject to weather conditions and any other unforeseen circumstances, dredging will take about two months to complete, after which the two faulty sluice gates will be replaced. All work is due to be finished by the end of May enabling the lake to re-open at the beginning of June.
Last year the council pledged to invest £300,000 to bring Marine Lake back into use as an outdoor swimming and watersports destination and submitted an application to the government’s Marine Management Organisation (MMO) for a licence to remove accumulated silt from the lake.
“It’s great news that the MMO licence has arrived and that dredging will start this week,” said Cllr Mike Solomon, the council’s executive member for neighbourhoods and community services.
“It’s frustrating it has taken so long to get the licence, but while we were waiting we worked with contractors and dredging experts to ensure we were geared up and ready to go as soon as the licence was issued.
“Now that we have finally got the go-ahead I am excited at the prospect of this much-needed work happening and being able to re-open the lake in good time to be enjoyed by our residents and visitors this summer.”
The dredging will be carried out by specialist contractors Smals Dredging. Water in the lake is essential for the dredging operation and means that, on occasions, work will not be able to take place due to the low tides. This has been factored into the contractors’ works programme.
The council is working closely with Weston Marine Lake Mudlarks on the future arrangements for the restored lake.
Claire Trevor-Roper, one of the directors of the Mudlarks, said: “We are delighted the council has selected Smals to do the work. We are really looking forward to swimming in the lake again, as well as welcoming back Whatsup paddle boarding, kayaking and the Sea Cadets, as well as encouraging yoga classes, theatre and live music events.
“The Mudlarks will continue to do regular litter picking sessions at the beach and will post photos of dredging progress on our website at www.westonmarinelake.co.uk.”
Cllr John Crockford-Hawley, the council’s heritage champion, added: “It’s 95 years since work started on the creation of a Marine Lake in Weston-super-Mare and this latest project to remove silt and restore swimming, paddling and possible boating uses will be much appreciated by locals and visitors.
“Since Victorian times there have been several attempts to trap Weston’s tide though none, bar this, left the drawing board. I look forward to taking a dip.”
The council’s investment in Weston’s Marine Lake is part of its £700,000 ‘Great Lakes’ project which also involves work to revitalise Clevedon’s Marine Lake and Portishead Lake Grounds.