'Choking' Northampton lakes could breath again under six-figure revamp plan

Kingfisher lake could be transformed if funding can be found for a major revamp scheme.
Kingfisher lake could be transformed if funding can be found for a major revamp scheme.

Plans to restore a set of swamp-like lakes to their former glory in Northampton have been circulated to thousands of homes.

In recent years people in the eastern side of Northampton have watched water levels drop due to years of silt build up and pollution at three Billing Brook lakes in Lings, Lumbertubs and Thorplands.

Part of the plans for Cygnet Lake.

Part of the plans for Cygnet Lake.

But the three drying up lakes are in line for a major overhaul thanks to a scheme being co-ordinated by the Growing Together organisation.

The Lottery-funded community group began asking people what they would like to see done at the former beauty spots back in October.

A set of plans for Kingfisher Lake, Cygnet Lake and Dragonfly Lake have now been sent round to homes in the area for feedback.

Growing Together programme co-ordinator, Peter Strachan, said: "The idea is that we will get them back to being a really attractive centrepiece for the estates."

Part of the plans for Dragonfly Lake.

Part of the plans for Dragonfly Lake.

The plans were drawn up by consultancy firm JBA, who have been studying the underlying problems at the three lakes for a number of months.

The brook leading to the beauty spots used to zig-zag across the countryside, but a tinkering of its route in the 19th Century allowed silt to flow downstream more easily.

That move more than a century ago allowed materials to build up in the three lakes when they were created in the 1970s.

Coupled with poor rainfall in recent years, the silt is now "choking" the lakes of oxygen and damaging the ecosystem there. On most days, Kingfisher Lake resembles a swamp and the spread of the materials is now beginning to starve cygnet lake of oxygen too.

Part of the plans for Kingfisher Lake.

Part of the plans for Kingfisher Lake.

JBA says a real difference can be made by reusing the silt to change the shape of the lakes so that less water is lost to evaporation, more silt is removed naturally and
new habitats are created for wildlife.

The silt can be used to create reed or iris beds that will filter out silt, develop wetlands that flood in the winter, make new islands in the lakes and form mud banks that can be grassed over.

It is not yet known who would fund the scheme, though Mr Strachan expects the eventual cost be in the six figures.

Without a change now, he says, the silt will eventually spread to Dragonfly Lake too and wildlife will leave the former beauty spots altogether.

"The water quality will go down so much, we will lose the bird life, the insect life," he added.

"What we are trying to do it to make the whole system sustainable in a way that will reduce the maintenance costs massively."

The consultation leaflets sent out to around 2,000 homes in the area asks residents to decide on a number of features in the final plans, such as whether to thin out trees in certain areas and use dropped banks.