Gloucester Docks dredging welcomed by Tall Ships festival organisers

Tall ship in Gloucester Docks The Tall Ships Festival in Gloucester began in 2007

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Plans to clear silt from Gloucester Docks, using a new type of dredging, have been welcomed by organisers of the city's Tall Ships Festival.

Last August several ships became stuck in mud as they arrived for the biennial event.

The Canal and River Trust said silt would be "hoovered" up from the bottom of the docks.

About 80,000 people attended the festival in 2011. The next one is due to take place in May 2013.

Paul Fox from the Canal and River Trust said: "The system we have been using for the last 10 to 15 years is known as water injection dredging where we disturb the sediments from the bed of the dock with a jet of water and we flush it out through Gloucester Lock by raising sluices.

'Real spectacle'

"It's more akin to sweeping with a yard broom.

"The new system is more akin to hoovering, where we suck up the sediments from the bed with a huge vacuum pump and discharge them through a pipeline.

"It's a more effective efficient method."

Mr Fox said the trust was also looking into clearing silt in the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, which would allow access to the docks for large vessels.

Chris Oldershaw, from Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company (GHURC) which helps organise the festival, said: "We'd like to get back to where we were in 2007 where we were able to attract some of the larger ships like the Caskelot, which have a tremendous presence and are a real spectacle for people to come and see.

"In the past few years we've gone for some of the smaller vessels.

"Ideally we need an extra depth of about 2 feet of water."

The dredging, which will cost about £80,000, still needs to be agreed by the Environment Agency.

If approved it is due to start in November.

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