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Invasive Species Week: Minister sees ‘dramatic impact’ floating pennywort is having on our rivers and lakes


Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner helping to remove floating pennywort at Little Britain Lake in Hillingdon. Credit Clearwater Photography x550px

Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner helping to remove floating pennywort at Little Britain lake in Hillingdon, west London, as part of Invasive Species Week

Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner met the Angling Trust and Environment Agency to see at first hand the damaging effect floating pennywort, an invasive non-native aquatic plant, is having on our waterways.

Lord Gardiner visited Little Britain Lake in Hillingdon, west London, where the weed has taken hold and heard about the steps being taken to prevent its spread into the River Colne. He also watched new signs being erected to encourage anglers and boaters to Check, Clean, Dry equipment and clothing to avoid spreading non-native species.

Rolling up his sleeves to help remove it, Lord Gardiner said that floating pennywort was having “a dramatic impact” on the country’s lakes and rivers.

He added: “We want to arrest its spread and then, wherever we can, control it and ensure we no longer have the problem we have at the moment but it is going to be a fairly long task.

“Invasive species pose a real threat to our country’s native plants and animals and cost the economy at least £1.8 billion a year. The Check, Clean, Dry campaign is playing a key role in raising awareness of these threats – helping to prevent new arrivals and stopping the spread of invasive species already here. It is great to see the whole community of river users supporting this programme to protect the future of our precious native species.”

Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner and Mark Owen with new Check Clean Dry signs at Little Britain lake, Hillingdon. Credit Clearwater Photography x550px

Lord Gardiner and Mark Owen, Angling Trust's Head of Freshwater, erecting Check, Clean, Dry signs at Little Britain lake in Hillingdon

Lord Gardiner’s visit to Hillingdon came during Invasive Species Week, organised by the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) and Defra, aimed at highlighting the problems caused by invasive species.

Mark Owen, Angling Trust’s Head of Freshwater, said: “‘It was great to get the Biosecurity Minister out on site to see the problems with floating pennywort, we hope this will quickly lead to the government putting in place effective, funded control and management plans to co-ordinate eradication work on a catchment basis."

Martin Salter, Angling Trust’s Head of Campaigns, said: “Floating pennywort is a spreading menace to both rivers and lakes and can completely overwhelm a fishery in a few months depleting oxygen levels, blocking out sunlight and removing vital habitat and food for fish and other wildlife. It has become a major problem on the lower Kennet near Reading and as now found its way into the Thames.”

Useful links:

Find out more about Invasive Species Week

Learn more about the Check, Clean, Dry campaign

Read the Angling Trust's blog on invasive beasts

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