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Spot any floating pennywort?
20th February 2019

By Sandra Pearce

The Environment Agency is asking the public to be vigilant and report any instances of floating pennywort, an invasive species, in rivers.

Already this winter the Agency has removed more than 1,000 tonnes of the aquatic plant from river networks in the Anglian region.

More than 500 tonnes were removed from the Bedford Ouse, 400 tonnes from the River Cam, and 200 tonnes from the Ely Ouse.

Teams have also tackled 50 new patches on the River Witham between Lincoln and Chapel Hill.

Floating pennywort forms dense mats that can affect oxygen levels in the water, crowd and kill native wildlife and damage habitat. It can become so prolific that boaters, anglers and others can’t use the waterway, and it even clogs sluices, weirs and drains, potentially increasing flood risk.

The plant is notoriously difficult to control – it can grow up to 25cm a day in the right conditions and even a small fragment can re-grow into a new plant.

Removal efforts will continue into the spring, and the Environment Agency is appealing to those who spend time on or near the water to report any patches they see – and to take precautions to avoid spreading it.

Paul Separovic, team leader at the Environment Agency, said: “Floating pennywort can cause damage to our natural habitat, threaten our native ecology, and prevent people from enjoying pastimes that bring them closer to nature, like fishing, boating and canoeing.

“That’s why we’re reminding people to help us stop the spread of this aquatic invader – make sure to check, clean and dry your clothes and equipment thoroughly after being in the water, and report sightings to us on 0800 807060.”