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River running through town is in a 'terrible condition', MP warns

PUBLISHED: 17:01 08 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:52 08 August 2019

The River Colne at Castle Park in Colchester before Environment Agency officers  cleared some of the weed Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

The River Colne at Castle Park in Colchester before Environment Agency officers cleared some of the weed Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

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Colchester MP Will Quince has taken to social media to criticise council chiefs for the state of the River Colne in the north Essex town.

The River Colne at Castle Park in Colchester after an Environment Agency team cleared some of the weed Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCYThe River Colne at Castle Park in Colchester after an Environment Agency team cleared some of the weed Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

Mr Quince posted an online copy of a letter he sent to Cllr Martin Goss, who is portfolio holder for Waste, Environment and Transportation at Colchester Borough Council, calling on the authority to clean the waterway of a build up of weed and algae in response to "deeply held concerns of constituents".

In the letter, Mr Quince says he shares concerns about the health of wildlife in the river and points out that the council is responsible for the upkeep of the River Colne as it passes through Colchester.

"It has also been sad to see such a great asset of Colchester in such a poor condition," he wrote, before asking the council if it has a "long-term plan" for controlling the weed.

MORE: Will the 'Colchester Declaration' help our struggling wildlife?

Environment Agency workers setting up equipment to remove weed from River Colne Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCYEnvironment Agency workers setting up equipment to remove weed from River Colne Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

Colchester Borough Council said it has been "exploring a range of measures" and that it will publish a "vision document for the river" in time for the meeting of its Cabinet on September 4.

The Environment Agency said the prolonged dry, warm weather has slowed the river's flow and created the conditions for surface weed, which includes invasive azolla and duck weed, to grow. Last week, an Agency team spent several days at the site, removing some of the vegetation. The team intends to return to the river later this month to complete the work.

An agency spokesman said: "We have been trialling different techniques to remove the weed to create some refuge areas for the fish. This improves the dissolved oxygen levels in the water, which the fish depend on.

Invasive azolla and duck weed Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCYInvasive azolla and duck weed Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

"While Colchester Borough Council is the riparian owner, we continue to work in partnership with them to improve the sustainability of the river."

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A pile of weed that was removed from the River Colne at Castle Park in Colchester Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCYA pile of weed that was removed from the River Colne at Castle Park in Colchester Picture: ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

Commenting on Mr Quince's correspondence, a Colchester Borough Council spokesperson said: "The Policy and Public Initiatives Panel was recently tasked with exploring a range of measures, in consultation with users and stakeholders, to increase recreational and other amenity use of the river whilst protecting and enhancing its fragile ecology.

"It is anticipated that this work will give rise in due course to a vision document for the river that will serve to protect and enhance its status as a natural and recreational community asset."

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