'It was the ideal time' - Conservationist defends dredging of duck pond

Andy Hind, who oversaw the dredging of the pond at Neatherd Moor, Dereham, insists it was done at the "ideal time"

Andy Hind, who oversaw the dredging of the pond at Neatherd Moor, Dereham, insists it was done at the "ideal time" - Credit: Chris Pearson/Andy Hind

The dredging of a beloved duck pond was carried out at the "ideal time", according to the conservationist who oversaw the work. 

Andy Hind, a freelance environmental scientist, led a project to remove mud and debris from the pond at Neatherd Moor in Dereham. 

The duck pond at Neatherd Moor, Dereham, has been dredged

The duck pond at Neatherd Moor, Dereham, has been dredged - Credit: Chris Pearson

Several people have, however, raised concerns over the quality of the work and the impact it could have on wildlife. 

But Mr Hind, who was brought in by Dereham Town Council (DTC), said the habitat had already declined thanks to extreme dry weather.

A spokesman for DTC added that dredging would improve the quality of the pond water and ensure it was "less likely to dry out in future years".

Explaining the process, Mr Hind said: "The main thing with pond restoration is letting light in. 

Andy Hind, who works as a conservationist and oversaw the dredging at Neatherd Moor in Dereham

Andy Hind, who works as a conservationist and oversaw the dredging at Neatherd Moor in Dereham - Credit: Andy Hind

"We did some work at the Neatherd pond 18 months ago when it was very wet - a complete contrast to now. A lot of the mud was very fine and, if you try and get it out when there is lots of water, it is impossible.

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"This summer has been the driest for 200 years and there really wasn't much water in the pond - maybe an inch in some parts. The council got in touch and said it might be a good time to get some of that mud out. 

"It is an unfortunate situation that it was so dry, but that meant ideal timing for dredging. This means that, when it does rain in subsequent years, the pond should hold more water."

Chris Pearson at the Neatherd Moor duck pond after it was dredged

Chris Pearson at the Neatherd Moor duck pond after it was dredged - Credit: Chris Pearson

Chris Pearson, who has lived in the area all his life, was among those concerned by the work and believes habitats have been "decimated". 

The 59-year-old said more careful consideration needed to be given to future management of the pond.

"I appreciate why it's been done, but the job doesn't appear to have been done in the right way," he added.

"We need someone who is an expert in this area to come in and say 'here is how you do it'. If you are relying on surface water, it will keep drying out."

The duck pond at Neatherd Moor, Dereham, has been dredged

The duck pond at Neatherd Moor, Dereham, has been dredged - Credit: Chris Pearson

On fears for wildlife, Mr Hind said: "It [dredging] is entirely a conservation-based activity.

"Certainly, by this time of year, most wildlife is able to move around and seek out other water sources if they need to, and the frog and toad tadpoles had all turned into their adult form by the time we carried out the work."