Posted on January 31, 2024
Calls to dredge a “smelly” nature reserve pond have been denied by council bosses.
More than 1,200 people signed a petition calling on Gloucester City Council to desilt the Saintbridge pond and nature reserve in Abbeydale.
Residents say the level of silt affects the water quality, harms habitats, and produces a “foul smell” in summer.
However, councillors say the build up of silt poses “no flood risk” and the £700,000 cost of dredging is unviable.
The site, which was granted nature reserve status by Natural England in 2004, has not been dredged since 2009.
At a council meeting on 25 January, a member of the Friends of Saintbridge Pond Nature Reserve argued the site should be desilted every five years.
“The area now shows a large build up of silt in the pond, with its tributaries overflowing over the pedestrian paths,” he said.
The petition also states that maintenance of the site will help to eradicate invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam and giant reed, which crowd out native species and upset biodiversity in the area.
“Historically, desilting of the pond has taken place on an approximately 20 years cycle,” said Councillor Richard Cook.
“Following discussions with the Environment Agency from a biodiversity and flood risk perspective it is felt that dredging is not currently needed.
“This will cause the area to naturally transform to a wooded wetland, improving biodiversity from the original site which would be lost if the area is dredged. The cost of at least £700,000 to do the work is also presently prohibitive,” he added.
‘Haven of calm’
According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the authority is working with Stroud District Council to manage the source of sediment upstream to prevent it reaching Saintbridge pond.
Councillor Andrew Gravells, who presented the petition at the meeting, said it was the largest the council had ever received.
“The friends of Saintbridge pond through sheer hard work and hours of fundraising have created a beautiful quiet oasis in this part of Gloucester,” he said.
“It’s a haven of calm and tranquillity appreciated and valued by so many people.”