Blanket Herbicide Spraying by the Environment Agency

Cam between Littlebury and Little Chesterford, 19 Oct 2019 (c) Mike Foley

We are horified to discover that the Environment Agency is proposing, once again, to blanket spray herbicide along large stretches of our precious rivers and streams.   We object strongly to this, and urge the EA to put their money and resources to better use.

You can see a summary of our progress (or not) below, and a full log here of the reports that we have received of damage caused by blanket herbicide spraying

Update  26 June 2020

We understand that discussions are ongoing in the Environment Agency and hope for a positive outcome.  In the meantime we would welcome any further views and evidence from river users to help us press our concerns home and ensure that the funds earmarked for spraying are instead used for positive work to enhance our rivers.

Update 4 June 2020

In early June, we were horrified to discover that the Environment Agency is proposing, once again, to blanket spray herbicide along large stretches of our precious rivers and streams.   They say this is “to maintain sinuosity within the channel to help reduce flood risk”

You can see the full list of sites here:EA herbicide proposals 2020

They sent this out for consultation to selected key conservation organisations a few weeks ago, with a deadline for responses of 5 June. However, as many staff are on furlough, it has only just come to our attention.

You can read our formal consultation response here

 

 

Fen Ditton Ditch clearance

The reservoir of the invasive weed, Floating Pennywort in the ditch between Fen Ditton ditch and the Cam has been in our sights for about a year. It is particularly important because now that the upper river is clear of Floating Pennywort, Cambridge Conservators are undertaking a major pennywort clearance project in the main river downstream of Cambridge. This ditch is now the main upstream reservoir.

Dealing with it has been a joint effort, led by Mike Foley.

Part of the problem was that a fallen tree was blocking access from the river, but ownership was unclear. It was clearly going to take a while to resolve, so Cambridge City Council lent us a boom to help contain the pennywort in the ditch until we could sort out what to do….

It took many many months, but finally, thanks to persistant hard work by Mike, much pouring over maps and many discussions with the Parish Council, various potential land owners and their agents,  Jesus College kindly agreed to “take responsibility” for dealing with the tree.

South Cambs District Council accelerated the permit for the treeworks as much as possible, but the nesting season had started before we got the OK to proceed. However, once Mike had done a Bird Survey to show that all was clear, Bidwells came in and removed the tree.The following day a team of 13 from Cambridge based technology company Sentec joined Mike to clear the pennywort.

They made good use of a set of nets and rakes given to us by the Environment Agency earlier this year.

The ditch is now basically clear of pennywort, although we will be continuing regular followup sessions from the bank and water to remove remaining strands as they emerge as the weather warms up.

If anyone who lives in the Fen Ditton area would like to help, do let us know.