Published: 06:00, 22 July 2021
| Updated: 15:56, 22 July 2021
Residents claim they have been ordered to stop trying to save fish dying in two ponds on a housing estate in Snodland.
Around 45 fish are understood to have perished due to high levels of ammonia in the water.
Locals waded in to save them and an online donation page raised more than £500 to pay for their treatment.
But now the resident behind the fundraiser, Keely Brattle, says she is seeking legal advice after the Residential Management Group (RMG), which manages the lakes, asked her to step back from the situation.
Thirty fish died in Poynder Drive pond but the condition of the water is now improving.
However, fish were moved to Edwards Close pond which is now contaminated as a result and 15 more have died.
Miss Brattle and her brother-in-law Brad Voak, of Leybourne Chase, have been instrumental in providing assistance to the fish, some of which died after being infected with parasites.
Mr Voak took four koi home in a bid to save them but, of those, just one has survived. He plans to call him Lucky.
Snodland West and Holborough Lakes Cllr David Lettington (Con) has now stepped in to help.
He says he has some sympathy with RMG but wants to see a plan of what will happen next.
“I have contacted RMG and Berkeley, the Holborough Lakes developers, to ask them what they are planning to do about maintaining the pond in future and whether they accept responsibility for the fish,” he said.
“I think they are entirely right to say to the residents to stay away from it, because I think they recognise that the pond is in their ownership.
“Hopefully that means they recognise that the animal wildlife in the pond is also their responsibility.
“I recognise that they say they didn’t put the fish there. I don’t know who did - they say it was residents.
“Nevertheless there is fish life there and they have a responsibility, under the Animal Welfare Act as I understand it, to look after them.”
The issue was first raised on social media earlier this month, but Cllr Lettington has asked Mr Voak and Miss Brattle to not post any further updates on social media for the time being.
He said: “I understand Keely has raised some money as well.
“I have said to RMG that I think it would be a goodwill gesture if they accepted the money and used it to do something for the fish's welfare.”
Miss Brattle had wanted to use the cash on a paddling pool so the fish can isolate, as well as buying nets and medication for them.
Mr Lettington whose wife, Ruth - a fellow Cllr for Snodland East and Ham Hill - is a freshwater biologist, said he visited the Poynder Drive pond on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
He says he could see no further dead fish but some did still look “sluggish and weak”.
“She said certainly there were things that needed doing in terms of pond filtration and aeration systems and possibly a pump to ensure the pond was constantly oxygenated. But really, it is for RMG to come up with that plan," he said.
“But I think they need to do it quickly because, even the fish they have saved, are clearly struggling and weak.
“I imagine they will just have a whole load more dead fish on their hands if they don’t do something relatively soon.”
In the region of 100 fish are estimated to still be in that pond.
He added: "I don’t think it is resolved because the condition of the pond is the exact same as it was."
Last week, RMG said they reacted quickly to investigate the situation and commissioned a water specialist contractor to undertake an inspection.
A spokesman added: “We have had discussions with the Environment Agency and have been advised they had received other instances of high ammonia readings, resulting from turbulent weather conditions.
“Our contractor attended to drain the pond and treat the water to reduce the PH level, which had been recorded, and we continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis.”
But only leading to further confusion and frustration, some of the infected fish were moved from one pond to another - causing further contamination.
Mr Lettington said: “RMG have clearly done some stuff in terms of draining the pond, removing water lilies and providing fresh water. But I don’t think that will resolve the problem.
“It is a very difficult situation for both sides, actually. Residents don’t want to walk past and see loads of dead fish floating in the pond.
“Equally, I think RMG are quite right to say ‘Well, we didn’t put them there’.”
RMG and Berkeley have been approached for comment.