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More dead fish along Sandwich's Ropewalk spark anger over state of the watercourse

A fisherman has slammed Dover District Council for its lack of maintenance after more dead fish continue to emerge on the surface of the water along the Ropewalk.

Simon Harrison is demanding the authority take swift action over the state of the watercourse in Sandwich and has even produced a five-page proposal on how to tackle the issue.

Fishermen are angry over the lack of maintenance along the Ropewalk in Sandwich
Fishermen are angry over the lack of maintenance along the Ropewalk in Sandwich

His plea is backed by other fisherman, many of whom have shared images on social media of lifeless fish among the algae.

Mr Harrison said: “This is neglect. It’s horrendous.

"These reeds haven’t been tended to for years and years.

“The fish are struggling to sustain themselves because of the conditions, and the community cannot enjoy the beauty of this area due to a lack of work being undertaken currently.

“I have written to Dover District Council with a proposal to get the Ropewalk back to how it used to be, with clear water, no reeds, perfect banks and people fishing along there.

Simon Harrison captured this image of a dead fish in the water along The Ropewalk
Simon Harrison captured this image of a dead fish in the water along The Ropewalk

“I sent it off a few months ago and haven’t had a reply. There’s loads of dead fish and that’s just the ones you can see.

“I reckon there’s hundreds.”

Within his proposal, Mr Harrison said he had secured sponsors including a tree surgeon who would help pay towards the works and a team of four volunteers who would ‘police’ it.

He suggested fisherman could be charged £5 a day to fish along the bank with that money going towards its regular maintenance.

KentOnline reported on another incident in August when advice was issued not to enter the water.

A dead fish spotted in the water in August Picture: Frank Todd
A dead fish spotted in the water in August Picture: Frank Todd

The council said it is aware of the problem and is working with the Environment Agency to develop a programme of works to improve the problem.

Its contractors have removed the dead animals and have already starting tackling some of the pond weed.

The Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Jeffrey Franklin said he thinks their work could now be exposing the extent of the problem.

He said: “Dover District Council is aware of the problem and they’ve already started strimming the bank and cutting the weeds down. But in doing this it’s exposing the amount of dead fish.

“It’s unfortunate that so many fish are dying.

The water along the Ropewalk in Sandwich is thick with algae
The water along the Ropewalk in Sandwich is thick with algae

“They plan to get a digger in and clear it out. I think the last time it was done was 20 years ago.”

A spokesman for DDC said: “We are aware of this matter, and contractors have attended the site to remove a number of dead fish.

“Contractors also took action to oxygenate the water and remove some of the pond weed.

“We are finalising what works need to be done with the Internal Drainage Board and the Environment Agency, which will include reed cutting and desilting, although final details/costs are to be confirmed.

"This is intended to take place early next year.A range of tree works, and work to clear the embankment and surrounding vegetation are set to be undertaken by DDC’s in-house ground maintenance team later this year.

“There were desilting works in the area in the 16/17 financial year, and reed clearance in 2018.

“We have received and acknowledged correspondence from a member of the public regarding the future management of the waterway, and this is under review.

“Can we take this opportunity to repeat advice that we would not encourage anyone to enter the watercourse or carry out clearance works without first approaching the council for approval.

“We would stress that everyone needs to put their safety first around water. We would also remind everyone that the area contains wildlife habitats that are protected by law and any person disturbing these habitats may be liable to prosecution.”

The Environment Agency said: “This has been investigated by our officers who found that the fish in the Delf Stream died because of low oxygen levels resulting from rotting weeds and high volumes of silt.

"We are providing advice and guidance to DDC which is responsible for the stream and are working with them to remove the plant matter.

"The council is planning to remove silt to deepen the channel next year.”

Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich


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