Anger after oil spill at beauty spot

MORE than 200 fish and birds have been killed after oil was “deliberately” poured into a now ruined Essex beauty spot.Clear-up operations likely to cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds started immediately after the Environment Agency was alerted about thick surface oil and pungent smells in a pond near the village of Great Notley.

MORE than 200 fish and birds have been killed after oil was “deliberately” poured into a now ruined Essex beauty spot.

Clear-up operations likely to cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds started immediately after the Environment Agency was alerted about thick surface oil and pungent smells in a pond near the village of Great Notley.

The agency said a “considerable” amount of fuel oil had been dumped into the large pond, which is an attraction for nature-lovers from miles around.

It is also feared the soil around the perimeter of the pond may have been contaminated by the spill, which is believed to be around 300 gallons.

Agency officers worked throughout the weekend to try to trace the source of the spill and now expect to remain in the village for the rest of the week using special equipment to remove the pollution from the water.

Yesterday, furious Braintree district councillor Graham Butland, who represents the village, said: “It sounds like an act of vandalism from what I can gather - if it is, it is to be deplored.

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“I can't see how this would have got in there by accident. It's a lovely little pond - and this has happened just as we are coming up to the summer when people would normally be admiring its natural beauty.”

Mike Webley, team leader of the Environment Agency's operation at the pond, said: “Someone's lost a fair amount of fuel. We haven't been able to trace the source yet, but we're not ruling out vandalism.

“It could also be a ruptured pipe somewhere with the oil seeping in via the sewerage system.”

Oil spilled on water stops normal oxygenation of the water, causing fish and other pond flora and fauna to suffocate, whereas oil on birds stops the normal functioning of feathers leaving them unable to fly or move to find food or care for their chicks.

Anyone who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously near the pond on Friday or Saturday night or has information relating to the loss of a large amount of oil is asked to call the Environment Agency on 0800 807060.

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