Sherwood Lake – an environmental crisis

Last year (the same time of year, almost to the week) there was a heartbreaking emergency when many of the fish in the lake behind Sherwood’s TN2 Community Centre were found at the surface, gasping for air.  It seems that oxygen levels in the lake had dropped to critically low levels.  As soon as I heard about this, I called a colleague at the Environment Agency and they immediately sent a team along to the lake with oxygenation equipment.

On that occasion a crisis was averted.  Yesterday though, the emails began again – the fish were gasping for air and in danger of dying.  This was not unexpected; indeed the Kent and Sussex Courier had already covered the story(“Concerns for Wildlife as Lake’s Waters Drop”, 7th May 2010).

The difference this time is that the Environment Agency were in a quandary as the lake belongs to a private developer.  To enter the site, even to save the lives of the wildlife there, would have been tantamount to trespass.  Since the threat some years ago of all-night camping by young people as part of a misguided plan from a local entrepreneur, the lake has been fenced off – an understandable reaction to health and safety concerns in our litigious society.

There are parallel efforts to resolve this issue.  Local residents have formed the FOSL (Friends of Sherwood Lake) group, which under the guidance of Borough Councillor Frank Williams has made an application to open up access under Village Green legislation.  At the same time, the local housing association are negotiating to purchase the site and allow the locals access again.

But all of this takes time during which access is prohibited, and the main casualty of the bureacracy and delay is the very wildlife that makes the lake such an attraction in the first place.  It’s not fair, and there must be something we can do to get this resolved.

If you feel strongly about this issue, why not join John Chappell’s excellent Facebook site by clicking on this link.

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