Building firm steps in to fence off a pond at Elm

PUBLISHED: 15:00 16 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:01 22 September 2014

Fenced Elm Pond. Picture: Steve Williams.

Fenced Elm Pond. Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

A construction firm has erected fencing and specialists have organised a training course following a call to remove illegal plant foliage that was creating a danger to children and animals at a pond in Elm.

Parrot Feather pond weed at Elm village pond - before it was fenced off .Picture: Steve Williams. Parrot Feather pond weed at Elm village pond - before it was fenced off .Picture: Steve Williams.

The pond is covered in a thick carpet of Parrot Feather, an aquarium plant that was banned from sale in pet shops in April this year.

Kier Living Eastern, which is responsible for the estate at Grove Gardens, have put up a fence around the pond to make it safe.

In the meantime Middle Level Commissioners have set up a last minute training course to help people learn how to manage waterways and how to identify non native plant species.

A Kier spokesman said: “We will always respond quickly to deal with issues for which we are responsible.

Elm Pond before the Parrot Feather plant took hold Elm Pond before the Parrot Feather plant took hold

“As soon as we were made aware of residents’ concerns about the suspected Parrot’s Feather in the ponds at Grove Gardens we instructed our landscape contractor to investigate and take action.

“We immediately put up a fence and signs around the ponds and took appropriate measures to resolve the issue. Our landscape contractors will continue to monitor the ponds and manage any issues that might arise.”

Contractors have sprayed the ponds and they will be monitored on an ongoing basis, the spokesman added.

Villagers say they have been told that the plant, which until five months ago was sold in pet shops for aquariums, got there by someone tipping goldfish into it.

Parrot Feather was banned in the UK as it is second only to Japanese knotweed for the way it takes hold and for being difficult to remove.

Cliff Carson, environment officer for Middle Level Commissioners, said the only way to safely get rid of it was to spray it with a herbicide such as Round-Up.

But he added: “You need to get at the roots. It is not good enough to simply spray the plant.”

The herbicide spray would need to get to the underside of the plant, he said, and added it could not be cleared manually as the plant was very brittle - the slightest bit breaking off could be transferred to a new location on the wheels of a car or on someone’s footwear.

It usually takes a number of treatments to get rid of Parrot Feather - which could take up to a year to totally clear, he added.

A half-day training event has been set up by Middle Level Commissioners to help people recognise and control non-native invasive water plants.

A spokesman said that recent discoveries of non-native plants at sites in the Middle Level area has increased the importance for everyone involved with the management of ditches, drains and water bodies to be aware of what to watch for and how to deal with it.

A spokesman said: “The Middle Level Commissioners, with help from the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme, supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, are running a half-day course on identifying non-native invasive water plants on Friday September 26.

“The course will be led by Jonathan Graham, a very experienced botanist who has carried out vegetation surveys throughout the Fens over many years.”

It is a half-day course and will be based at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel in March from 9.30am to 1.30pm.

The course will target a small group of problem plants that are likely to occur in the Middle Level catchment.

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