Fightback against invading pennywort begins in Ely

Environment Agency crews will be hard at work along the River Great Ouse in Ely and River Cam from this week to remove tons of troublesome floating pennywort from the rivers and watercourses.

On Monday, maintenance teams began a two week programme of removing the invasive non-native species to try to stop it spreading further.

Using their new floating weed harvester, the Environment Agency teams will be able to help prevent the spread of this plant by collecting around four tonnes of wet-cut weed from Ely to Bottisham Lock.

Darren Trumper, Environment Agency Operations Delivery Team Leader said: “Floating pennywort have become a large problem in the River Cam and the Washes.

“An especially worrying factor in the infestation is the invasion of the River Cam Washes, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and crucial to all kinds of wildlife.


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“The still waters provide the perfect breeding ground for floating pennywort which has formed dense mats that block out oxygen and light for fish and also deprive all kinds of birds and creatures from feeding from the waters.”

Native to North America, floating pennywort is a fast growing invasive species of freshwater plant which forms dense mats around the edges of rivers.

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These mats have the potential to cause serious problems for fish and anglers by suffocating fish and preventing access to the water. The plant also obstructs movements of animals and boats, preventing navigation and recreational use of watercourses.

Floating pennywort is widespread and well established in the south and east of England and appears to be spreading rapidly north and westwards.

As such, this makes it one of many high priority invasive non-native plant species in Great Britain.

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