Roding Valley Lake Environment Agency Statement

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about

The Environment Agency has said that blanket weed is the probable cause of the rapid drop in oxygen levels that led to the death of fish at Roding Valley Lake.

In a statement, the Environment Agency said: We have investigated the matter fully and there are no indications that there is any sewage polluting the lake. All indications show that it was a natural event, caused by excessive blanket weed, which led to lack of oxygen in the main body of water.

Roding Valley Lake Oxygen Levels Near Normal

Written on . Posted in Countryside and wildlife, Loughton, Out and about, Your area

Oxygen Levels approaching 50 percent have signalled a major improvement in the condition of Roding Valley Lake.

Councillor Mitch Cohen, Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder said: The good news is that oxygen levels are now approaching near normal thanks to a combination of natural recovery and aeration equipment. Therefore thanks to the improvement in conditions over the weekend there is no need to continue artificial aeration and the equipment will be removed. However, this does not suggest that we are becoming complacent and will continue to monitor oxygen levels.

He continued: Some more dead fish have appeared but have probably been dead for some time. A few more are likely to appear as decomposition gasses bring them to the surface and we will have a further clear up later this week.

The experts from the Environment Agency are still struggling to understand exactly what happened at Roding Valley Lake. It now seems very unlikely that a sewage leak was to blame. It is much more likely to be what they would call a natural event, possibly associated with a sudden growth of blanket weed or algae although this remains speculation.

Our staff will continue to work with the Environment Agency to find the cause. A meeting will be scheduled in the next couple of weeks once the tests have been completed. We will then be in a position to see if there was anything we could reasonably have done to foresee such an event and whether it could be possible to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

Smokefree Seminar

Written on . Posted in Health, Our activities, Out and about

`This is the biggest contribution to public health for over fifty years since the introduction of the 1956 Clean Air Acts which rid London of its smog`. That was the message being jointly promoted by Epping Forest District Council and Harlow Council at a seminar entitled `Clear Air – Implementing Smokefree Legislation and Managing the Change` held at Harlow Council`s Water Garden Office on 8 June 2007. Businesses from both Districts were informed by presentations from speakers from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, The British Innkeepers Institute, GASP, West Essex Primary Care Trust and both Local Authorities.

On 1 July 2007, the smokefree legislation will apply to all enclosed or substantially enclosed public places, workplaces and public vehicles including taxis, mini cabs and work vehicles. They are also required to display statutory signage in both premises and relevant vehicles which is available free of charge from Smokefree England. Delegates were given information from manufacturers of shelters and bins should they choose to erect a shelter for smokers at their premises. Help was on hand from West Essex PCT who provided advice for employers and individuals who wished to make the introduction of this legislation a prompt to quit smoking.

Ian Gray of The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said: It was one of the best supported and most professional events I have attended. He continued: This legislation is not a ban on smoking but a prohibition on smoking in enclosed places, which is to protect non-smokers and employees from the effects of second hand smoke.

The questions to the speakers prompted some lively debate that all found beneficial and delegates were pleased to learn that they were not initially going to be fined for non-compliance and that enforcement officers would work with them to help them comply with the legislation. Fines and formal action would only be considered where businesses or individuals were persistent offenders. Leaflets for individuals have been distributed to public locations across the Epping Forest District and the public should look for the Clear Air poster to obtain the leaflets.

Anyone wishing to consider giving up smoking should contact the NHS local stop smoking cessation service on 01279 827 866.

If you would like further information on the Smokefree legislation:

Roding Valley Lake – Update

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Your area

Doubts have emerged about the cause of death of substantial numbers of fish at Roding Valley Lake on Friday. Initially it was believed that a sewage pipe running under the lake was the probable cause. After extensive investigations over the weekend, Thames Water and the Environment Agency have been unable to confirm a leak. A new theory that the death of the fish may have been caused by a natural event is now being explored.

Tests of the water showed very low levels of oxygen in parts of the lake while other areas were almost normal. Initially, organic dye tests to find the exact location of any leaks have proved inconclusive. Further dye and water tests are being carried out.

Thames Water and Environment Agency officials have not ruled out the possibility of a sewage leak but are now suggesting that there may be a natural cause for the sharp and sudden drop in oxygen levels in parts of the lake. Among the theories being explored is the possibility that large amounts of algae may have been affected by recent weather conditions, leading to the oxygen imbalance.

Aeration of the lake has continued as the organisations battle to save as many fish as possible.

Councillor Mitch Cohen, Epping Forest District Council`s new Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder said: The events of the last 72 hours have been very distressing. The area is a beautiful setting regularly enjoyed by residents of all ages as well as being a haven for wildlife. Everyone who loves Roding Valley will be upset by the scenes.

Councillor Cohen continued: Sadly, the experts at the Environment Agency are telling us that this kind of thing can happen anywhere and suddenly but on a more optimistic note there is no reason to believe the lake will not completely recover. We will continue to post information updates on the Council website as and when we hear anything new.

Weather Update: Flash Flooding Hits District

Written on . Posted in Business, Emergencies, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Your area

Severe weather warnings are still in force and more rain is expected. Over the last few days (the 14 June 2007 in particular) the District has been vulnerable to flash flooding like many other parts of the Country.

The rain has been so heavy for short periods that it has overwhelmed some drainage systems. Flash flooding tends to be very localised and rapidly dissipates in most cases. Within the District, Ongar has been worst hit over the last few days.

All of Epping Forest District Council`s Flood Alleviation Schemes have worked well and areas such as North Weald that are normally prone to flooding have been largely unaffected.

However, despite the efforts of all the various agencies including Epping Forest District Council, Essex County Council Highways, Thames Water and the Emergency Services, a small number of homes have been flooded. Water came up so rapidly in these instances that there was little anyone could do to help.

More flooding is possible over the next few days. In partnership with other organisations, Epping Forest District Council will continue to do all we can. People who think they may be at risk of flooding should protect themselves.

Link to Environment Agency Flood Advice
    Sandbags are available from a number of different suppliers including:

  • SG Baker
    Grantham, Lincs – Telephone 01476 565501
  • Jewson Ltd
    Greensted Road, Ongar – Telephone 01277 362231
    Bridge House Wharfe, Lea Road, Waltham Abbey – Telephone 01992 714000
  • Travis Perkins Ltd
    140 High Street, Epping – Telephone 01992 572231
  • Rolathene Ltd (Bags only)
    Unit 41, Hillgrove Business Park, Nazeing – Telephone 01992 892525

A spokesperson for Epping Forest District Council said: “We are part of the emergency response and do have limited supplies of sandbags but flash flooding is one of the most difficult challenges. Water can rise so quickly that by the time a Council lorry arrives it can be too late. Anyone living in an area vulnerable to flash flooding would be well advised to make sure they have their own supplies or have taken other precautions to protect their property.”

London Underground Comes Under Spotlight at Scrutiny

Written on . Posted in Meetings, Out and about, Residents, Travel, Your area, Your council

Simon Williams of London Underground Limited proved to be a master of his brief when he gave a detailed account of the latest developments on the Central Line to Members of Epping Forest District Council`s Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 7 June 2007.

In a very detailed and wide ranging presentation available to view online via the Council webcast facility, Mr Williams covered the upgrade and refurbishment of local Central Line stations and services including the extension of station opening times and staffing hours. He reported that since January, many of the local stations had become part of the travel zone 4 meaning lower prices for many travellers.

As more travellers switch to alternatives such as Oyster Cards, the provision of traditional ticket offices was being reduced but Mr Williams emphasised that all stations would be staffed while open. He outlined many of the improvements to stations such as Epping, Chigwell, Loughton, Theydon Bois, Roding Valley and Epping. Work was continuing at Loughton and Debden.

Refurbishment at Grange Hill is scheduled to take place in 2008.

Mr Williams described many enhancements and investments to the track and infrastructure of the Central Line in the period leading up to the London Olympics of 2012. He acknowledged that some of the network investment works would also cause periods of short-term disruption to some rail users.

However, while many improvements had been made or were planned, Mr Williams also had to answer a number of concerns. Delays and uncertainties about the upgrade of Buckhurst Hill Station which is not likely to receive significant attention before 2011 prompted Councillor Mrs Ann Haigh to enquire what might be done in terms of staff visibility, ticket facilities and access arrangements. Councillor Stallan appealed on behalf of rail user at Epping for the retention of the station kiosk in any future changes to the station, while several councillors asked questions about parking provision for commuters.

Original plans for the extension of the existing car park capacity had been shelved but a feasibility study was underway intot he scope for use of the builders yard at Epping Station.

Councillor Lesley Wagland emphasised the need not only to staff stations such as Chigwell where service hours were recently extended, but to ensure a higher level of staff visibility to reassure late night travellers.

Crime prevention in the form of CCTV cameras for stations and car parks featured in the improvements outlined by Mr Williams along with staffing of stations during open hours.

Councillor David Bateman and Councillor Doug Kelly put a number of strategic questions to Mr Williams. They asked what consideration was being given to the potential for extension of the Central Line, either out to Ongar on the existing privately owned track bed or for more ambitious projects such as extending the line to Stansted.

Mr Williams said that on the current population increase projections for the East of England Plan, LUL did not believe a business case could be made for repurchase of the Epping Ongar Line. Extension to Stansted would be prohibitive for a number of reasons including journey time.

Generating significant additional passenger numbers from within the district or further a field would also have implications on the Central Line capacity in central London. Mr Williams said that at peak times Central Line trains were running at approximate two minute intervals and while there might be some further scope to increase capacity this was limited. Councillor Mrs Wagland came back on these points as a commuter who frequently struggled in overcrowded trains.

Many of the decisions relating to congestion lay within the strategic remit of the Mayor of London. Mr Williams said that beyond improvements to the Central Line itself, Cross Rail and other solutions such as enhancements to the bus network were part of the Mayor`s thinking.

Allowing for a degree of investment to the rail network essential to the success of the Olympics in 2012, Councillor Heather Harding sought information on the impact of the recently publicised Metronet funding problems. Mr Williams was unable to provide a full response but speculated on the balance between the public purse and private enterprise in meeting some of the funding gap.

Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens, chairing Overview and Scrutiny in the absence of Councillor Richard Morgan drew the questions session to a close with thanks to Mr Williams for his very detailed presentation and responses.

Councillor Angold-Stephens said: Simon Williams certainly did his homework. Even though he had advanced notice there were many supplementary questions. While there are a number of welcome improvements to London Underground, there are also still issues of real concern to us. However, Mr Williams had a very good grasp of the subject and I think Members appreciated the manner in which he was able to reply.

Epping Parking Review

Written on . Posted in Out and about, Parking, Residents, Travel, Your area, Your environment

Epping Forest District Council has, in partnership with Essex County Council been working on the Epping Parking Review. The works are programmed to commence in mid May and should be completed, (weather and access permitting) by the end of June 2007.

Copies of the proposals are also on display at the Civic Offices in Epping and at Epping Town Council in St Johns Road in Epping between 9.00am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
Note: The Town Council offices are closed for lunch between 12.30pm and 1.30pm.

Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council are committed to undertaking a review of the parking scheme six months after implementation with a view to addressing any concerns raised by residents and businesses regarding the scheme.

Comments can be forwarded to either Essex County Council or Epping Forest District Council:

  • Essex County Council Highways and Transportation
    West Area Highways Office
    Warwick House
    Roydon Road
    Essex CM19 5DX
  • Telephone: 01279 642500
  • Email:

Bobbingworth Tip – the Problem and the Solution

Written on . Posted in Business, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Work begins on Monday 19 March 2007 on the long awaited improvements to Bobbingworth Tip.

For more than ten years in the 1960`s and 70`s the former gravel pit near Ongar was being used as a landfill for domestic rubbish. Although landfill seemed like a cheap and easy solution to rubbish disposal at that time, tips like Bobbingworth have left a legacy of pollution. Now the Council is investing £1.35 million into turning the site into a public asset.

The works now getting under way to clean up the site will create huge underground barriers and drains to help control the flow of water leeching through the refuse. By the end of the project only clean, healthy treated water will flow from the site. The aims of the project is to control the volume of leachate leaving the tip and going into the Thames Water Utilities Ltd sewage works as Epping Forest District Council can be in breach of licence and incur penalties. Native trees and hedgerows will be preserved and enhanced with new planting and landscaping to provide a park for people to walk in and enjoy.

Tips like Bobbingworth pollute the local environment by giving off gases and contributing significantly to global warming. After so many years the gas emissions at Bobbingworth are now falling, but problems remain of pollution escaping as water seeps through the tip and affects land and watercourses around it. The smell of  gas may have faded but the water pollution is clear to see.

Over the course of the building works, a large number of lorries will bring materials to the site for the construction of the various structures and topsoil to cap the site properly. Care is being taken to keep the disturbance to residents caused by these lorries to a minimum.

    To reduce disturbance:

  • Opening times will be restricted:          Monday to Friday 8:00 – 18:00
              Saturday 8:00 – 13:00Note: there will be no operations on Sundays and Public Holidays
  • Low noise plant and equipment with effective silencers that are properly maintained
  • Work on Saturdays (when possible will be conducted away from the site boundaries)
  • On Friday afternoons soil deliveries will stop at 16:00 rather than 16:30
  • A maximum of 90 lorries on any one-day
  • No soil deliveries on Saturdays

The lorries entering and leaving the site will be restricted to a 30mph speed limit. Random checks will be carried out by Veolia (an environmental service) to make sure that the lorries delivering materials to the site are driving properly, and are driving at the right delivery times. Local residents are encouraged to report to Veolia any problems caused by the lorries. On site wheel-cleaning facilities will prevent lorries transferring mud onto clean roads.

    Contact details for Veolia are:

  • Telephone number for Veolia 01277 723 552
  • Or email the Veolia environmental manager

Heartful Dodgers Sponsored Walk

Written on . Posted in Health, Our activities, Out and about, Sports

On 1 October 2006, 70 walkers made up of members of the Epping Forest District Council Lifewalks Group and the Heartful Dodgers (who attend weekly rehabilitation circuit training) took part in the third annual sponsored walk organised by Roger Nuttall. The walk around a 10k route took in parts of the Lee Valley Country Park including 70 Acres Lake and Hooks Marsh Lake as well as stretches of the River Lee Navigation and past Holyfield Weir.

Funds raised by the walkers, their families, friends and accompanying pets this year amounted to £3,020.50 made up of £872.50 from the Heartful Dodgers, £1,725.00 from the LifeWalkers and £423.00 from supporters.

For more information about the Heartful Dodgers contact Colleen Thorlby on 07931 883 146, BACR Stage 4 Instructor, and for LifeWalks contact David Hogg LifeWalks Co-ordinator on 01992 564222.

Ongar Tree Strategy Public Meeting

Written on . Posted in Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your environment

A public meeting is to be held in the Budworth Hall on Wednesday 25 October 2006 at 7.30pm to discuss the production of an Ongar Tree Strategy.

The proposed Tree Strategy will be reviewing the tree and landscape history of Ongar, assessing what is there now, and planning for the future.

    This is a chance for residents of Ongar to come along and add their contributions: 

  • Do you have any interesting anecdotes about the trees and landscape of Ongar?
  • What would you like to see in Ongar in the future?
  • Do you have any skills you are able to offer to help in the production of this document?
Click here to view Ongar Tree Strategy poster

The document is being produced by Epping Forest District Council in partnership with Ongar Town Council and the people of Ongar. So don`t miss this opportunity to come and have your say.