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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 10:40 GMT
Algae threatens rare fish
Bassenthwaite lake
Bassenthwaite is one of England's most popular lakes
Poisonous green algae is polluting one of England's prettiest lakes and threatening rare species of fish.

Urgent action is needed to clean up scenic Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District, according to local MP Tony Cunningham.

He is demanding talks with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) about the problem.

Mr Cunningham, MP for Workington, claims salmon stocks and rare species of vendace are being destroyed as a result of the choking algae, caused by a build-up of chemicals.

Green algae
Green algae has been found at Bassenthwaite

Mr Cunningham says raw sewage overflowing from a nearby water treatment works is running into the lake and causing algal growth.

A spokesman for United Utilities, which owns the nearby treatment works, said the facility was "working perfectly fine".

But he admitted the works were designed to overflow at times of high water levels.

Bassenthwaite Lake is the only surviving home of the rare vendace species in the British Isles.

Cumbrian angling expert Chris Bowman said the problem made fishing difficult, but the survival of the rare species was more important.

Phosphate pollution

Mr Cunningham said: "There are two main solutions - modernising sewage works on the River Derwent, which feeds the lake, or planting more reed beds.

"Reeds help soak up phosphates, the chemical causing the pollution."

Work to upgrade treatment works along the River Derwent is due to take place by 2004.

But Mr Cunningham hopes some of that work can be brought forward.


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See also:

11 Dec 00 | Health
22 Feb 00 | Specials
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