Pollution incident at Werrington Brook affects local wildlife

Project partners for the Werrington Brook Improvements project in Peterborough were dismayed to learn of a recent pollution incident, which had devastating effects on the local wildlife, most notably a pair of well-known breeding swans. 

The river improvement project partners – the charity PECT, Peterborough City Council, and the Environment Agency – want to highlight the significance of this incident, with the aim of engaging local residents in battling pollution issues and raising awareness about reporting incidents speedily, to reduce the impact and harm to wildlife and the environment.

“Healthy rivers provide excellent environments to help local people, organisations and wildlife in numerous ways,” explains PECT’s CEO Carly Leonard. “In addition to the physical works as part of the Werrington Brook Improvements project, we want to explore how the local community can work together to reduce pollution and report incidents as soon as they are spotted to maintain a cleaner, healthier river environment. We urgently need terrible incidents like this one to become a thing of the past.”

It is believed the oil incident on Werrington Brook, near Fulbridge Road, was reported to the Environment Agency several days after the incident and, during the same period, the RSPCA removed two oil covered swans from the spot. Immediate measures were put in place to clean up the site.

Whilst the swans were rescued by the RSPCA, the 19-year old male swan sadly died due to the incident. When it was fully recovered, the female swan was returned to the area at a later date.

Andy Sadler, Catchment Coordinator, Welland and Nene, at the Environment Agency, said: “Environment Agency officers were notified of an oil pollution on Werrington Brook last month and immediately attended the scene to deploy a boom and start the clean-up process by using absorbent pads to soak up the spillage.

“Unfortunately, as the incident happened several days before the Environment Agency received the report, we were unable to trace the source of the pollution to establish who was responsible and to bring them to justice. It is really important that anyone who witnesses any pollution of land or water immediately reports the incident to us via the Environment Agency 24-hour hotline on 0800 807060 to minimise the effects of the pollution on the environment and enable us to carry out a full investigation.

“Pollution incidents can seriously damage or kill wildlife and, due to oil being dumped in the brook, two swans, which were much-loved by local people, were sadly covered in oil. Whilst the swans were rescued by the RSPCA, one has sadly since died.

“We have been working on the Werrington Brook Improvement project since 2014 in partnership with Peterborough City Council, Anglian Water, RiverCare and PECT and are due to begin the next phase, starting in January 2018 and completing in March 2018.”

The Werrington Brook Improvements is a 5+ year programme looking at ways of holistically improving a sub-catchment of the River Welland. The project involves physical works, and aims to influence community and business behaviour in order to reduce pollution across five stretches of the brooks in the Dukesmead, Hastings Road, Arundel Road, Ullswater Avenue and Aubretia Avenue areas.

The works involve putting new features into the brooks to improve the way they naturally function, restoring them to how nature intended. From changing the way the brook flows, to increasing the amount of oxygen in the water, the features will help to clean the water, create new habitats, and provide a more pleasant space for all to enjoy.

If you spot a pollution incident, please call the Environment Agency 24-hour hotline: 0800 807060. For more information about the project in general, email werringtonbrook@pect.org.uk or visit www.pect.org.uk/WerringtonBrook.