Haddenham Conservation Society claims rotting sugar beet is causing threat to local wildlife

Old West River near Aldreth taken six years ago by Hugh Venables.

Old West River near Aldreth taken six years ago by Hugh Venables. - Credit: Archant

Pollution of a local drain is causing problems for wildlife according to the Haddenham Conservation Society who are calling for action to clean up the mess.

Paul Mason from the society claims the New Cut Drain near Aldreth is being badly polluted by run-off from a rotting sugar beet left under white plastic in a nearby field which was intended for anaerobic digestion.

He says otters, water voles and kingfishers are in danger of having their fur and feathers tarnished and damaged from a thick treacly sediment making its way from a farm to the Old West River (part of the Great Ouse) a distance of about two miles.

Fish, especially small species like Spined Loach, a species of conservation concern are being threatened along with larger species caught by anglers.

He said in a statement from the society: “This pollution material is making the waterway dead and it is likely to remain so for years as invertebrates are killed off and thus affecting the wildlife chain above them.

“Dragonflies, damselflies and mayflies will all be affected. Reeds and other herbage eaten by water voles will be poisoned.

“Apart from all that residents of Aldreth have to put up with the stench especially on hot windless days.

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“In addition to the perpetrator, the Environment Agency whose drain this is (not the Haddenham Drainage Commissioners) must be urged to clean up the water course without delay and restore the wildlife balance.” A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “The Environment Agency is investigating a pollution incident involving stored sugar beet near Aldreth, Cambridgeshire. We are continuing to monitor the local water quality and oversee remedial work.”