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Pollution signs go up at reserve

PUBLISHED: 16:44 07 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:31 03 July 2010

CLEAN-UP QUEST: Signs pointing the finger of guilt at Anglian Water for pollution at Belton Fen. But the company says the presence of water voles is a good indication of water quality.

CLEAN-UP QUEST: Signs pointing the finger of guilt at Anglian Water for pollution at Belton Fen. But the company says the presence of water voles is a good indication of water quality.

Liz Coates

Signs have gone up at a nature reserve to encourage people to help halt alleged pollution that could be harming protected species such as the water vole.

Signs have gone up at a nature reserve to encourage people to help halt alleged pollution that could be harming protected species such as the water vole.

Nature-lover Andrew Jenner said he had seen fish gasping for air at Belton Fen, the nature reserve he has tended for 13 years and owned for the past two. He has criticised Anglian Water for failing to do enough to prevent pollution at Stepshort Dyke, Belton, which he says has repeatedly been contaminated, forcing out a family of eight swans.

The company said this week that engineers were looking at a solution but the project was a low priority.

But Mr Jenner said: “We are not talking about a couple of buckets - we are talking about hundreds of gallons. Leaks can go on for hours and hours with no one reporting it. It can hide under floating pondweed and it is happening more frequently.”

He said the problem was with a pumping station and blockages in sewer pipes installed to deal with a 1950s population that pre-dated Belton and Burgh Castle's newer estates and holiday centres. “It's a 50-year-old system - they are trying to force two pints into a pint pot,” said Mr Jenner.

“There was supposed to be an agreement with us and Anglian Water that they would phone me up when there was a problem and the land drainage board to ensure their pump was off and the polluted water was not drawn into the River Waveney.

“The last time they did not phone up or clean up. It was taken 400 yards downstream and would have been totally impossible for anyone to do anything. The Environment Agency does not seem to be pushing hard enough. I think they think I am exaggerating, but now we are getting other people witnessing it.”

AW spokesman Dan Baker said: “We are aware, as is the Environment Agency, and we are looking for an engineering solution. It is quite low down the priority list, and the fact that it is home to water voles is a good indication of water quality.

“If a sewage system is not coping we need to look at that, but it is important to say that the Environment Agency is not unduly concerned.”

Mr Jenner has put his heart and soul into the haven, digging out a half-acre wildlife pond and constantly dredging 1000 feet of waterways. He wants people to report any pollution so swift action can be taken to limit the damage and a proper record kept of the rate of incidents.

Frustration has also led him to seek the backing of English Nature, which is advising him on how best to protect the water voles.

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