CHOKED

River weed forces post­pone­ment of Tack­le­fest and re­gatta

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page - By KIRSTEN BEACOCK

SCORCH­ING tem­per­a­tures have sent weeds spi­ralling out of con­trol on the city’s wa­ter­ways – lead­ing to two ma­jor events be­ing can­celled or post­poned.

Hot weather has led to weed grow­ing at an alarm­ing rate in the River Nene and the city’s row­ing lake forc­ing or­gan­is­ers of the Tack­le­fest show to post­pone the event and a ju­nior re­gatta to be called off.

SCORCH­ING tem­per­a­tures have led to weeds tak­ing over the city’s wa­ter­ways - prompt­ing two ma­jor events to be can­celled or post­poned.

Hot weather mixed with a long dry spell has led to ideal con­di­tions for wa­ter weeds, which have been grow­ing at an alarm­ing rate and chok­ing the River Nene, along with the city’s row­ing lakes.

Ex­ces­sive weed at Thorpe Meadow’s row­ing lake led to the can­cel­la­tion of Peter­bor­ough City Row­ing Club’s ju­nior re­gatta last week­end, af­ter fears the weed would hin­der com­pe­ti­tion and pose a safety risk to young row­ers.

And the an­nual Tack­le­fest show and com­pe­ti­tion has also had to be pushed back from July to Septem­ber 11 and 12, as or­gan­is­ers could not guar­an­tee the River Nene would be weed free in time for thou­sands of fish­ing en­thu­si­asts to ar­rive at the Em­bank­ment. Last year’s event drew 8,000 an­gling fans.

The En­vi­ron­ment Agency, which is re­spon­si­ble for the UK’s wa­ter­ways, are bat­tling to take back the river by us­ing spe­cial­ist weed cut­ter boats to re­move the trou­ble­some plants.

A spokes­woman said: “We are aware of the weeds and they have been quite bad due to the lack of rain­fall, but we are aim­ing to have the ma­jor­ity of it cleared up by the end of next week.”

Press of­fi­cer for the Peter­bor­ough City Row­ing Club, Ericha Knowles, said they had man­aged to hold their se­nior re­gatta at the be­gin­ning of June but their cut­ting boats had strug­gled to con­tain the weed growth in the weeks be­fore the ju­nior re­gatta.

They took the tough de­ci­sion to can­cel the pop­u­lar event and say they can­not resched­ule, as their events cal­en­dar is planned so far in ad­vance.

She said: “Even if we cut the weeds, they could float to the sur­face and get stuck in rud­ders and blades, which could lead to cap­siz­ing.

“If we didn’t cut them it could make the race un­fair, with some of the lanes at a dis­ad­van­tage.

“Hope­fully we can man­age to clear them in time for our next ma­jor event in Au­gust.”

Peo­ple are be­ing warned not to stray too close the edge of the River Nene and row­ing lakes, as the weeds mask where the ground ends.

The En­vi­ron­ment Agency spokes­woman said “We would urge peo­ple not to go to close to the edge and just be wary as the weeds can mask where the earth stops and the wa­ter starts.”

An­other weed – float­ing ben­thos – has also caused prob­lems, af­ter its brown colour led mem­bers of the pub­lic to fear there had been a sewage leak in the Nene.

The spokes­woman added: “We have also had to bring in an­other type of cut­ter to get rid of the ben­thos as this sits on the bot­tom of the river bed, then floats up to the sur­face.

“It doesn’t look very at­trac­tive and, when there was an un­pleas­ant smell near the river, we got a lot of calls.”

Pic­ture: ROW­LAND HOB­SON

PROB­LEM: Work­ers re­move weed which is chok­ing up the River Nene, fol­low­ing the hot weather. (METP-29-06-10RH111)

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