A ‘HISTORIC ERROR’ means council bosses will have to pay nearly £100,000 to clean a dirty pond which left hundreds of fish gulping for air last summer.

Forest Park in Bracknell is home to more than 200 carp and rudd fish but experts had to remove them from Savernake Pond in August 2019 after a lack of rainfall and a build-up of dirt led to a lack of oxygen in the water.

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Some of the fish died despite park rangers’ efforts, and now work is set to get underway to clear silt traps which have been blocked for “several years”.

Local Berkshire:

This maintenance will cost £92,000 — a fee set to be paid by Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) after an “administrative error” in a “historic document exchange”.

A report outlining the council’s spending plans for next year explained: “For several years now the silt traps surround Savernake Balancing Pond in Forest Park have not been maintained and are now blocked.

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“This was because the Parks and Countryside service believed that they were the responsibility of Thames Water.

“However, recent research into the matter has revealed that the legal documents transferring ownership to Thames Water were never signed and thus the maintenance legally falls to the council.”

Local Berkshire:

BFC negotiated with Thames Water to clear the outflow after flooding issues in the past, but this led to a reduction in the pond water level — a contributing factor to the oxygenation issues faced in the summer.

Parks bosses are now contacting contractors to work out the best way to empty the silt traps.

One option is to dispose of the silt on-site or take it to the landfill.

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Another idea touted by council chiefs is said to be “extremely expensive” but will be necessary if the dirt is deemed to be “hazardous” after chemical testing, which is currently underway.

Rangers are also looking to add filtering vegetation to the silt traps to attract biodiversity to the site, improve how the pond area looks and to raise the quality of the water entering the lake.

This spending comes as part of BFC’s budget plans for 2020/2021, which residents can comment on here.

Council bosses will vote on the final spending proposals at a meeting in late February.