Alton and the surrounding area is blessed to have the Kings Pond near the centre of town. It is priceless in its beauty and great variety of wildlife.
One could imagine other similar towns with nothing like Kings Pond wanting to spend large sums of money to create a pond which would attract such a variety of wildlife and have a joyful circular walk around it, which is used daily by the very young to the very old.
It is a place of peace, regeneration and calm for those in need of such things.
Alton has its own nature reserve which people come from miles around to visit. Other places would probably charge to visit such a place!
From little grebes to swans and their cygnets every year, from little egrets and herons to large numbers of cormorants, the Kings Pond is a very special place.
The previous Alton Town Council produced a management plan which proposed taking Kings Pond “offline”, which is hydrology jargon for getting rid of it.
This caused great concern among many people who love the pond and enjoy its beauty and wildlife. It was controversial and caused a great deal of angst. Why did they want to do this?
Their thinking appeared to be based on a letter from the Environment Agency (Paul Davey, technical officer, July 20, 2022) which expressed the view they had long had the ambition to take Kings Pond offline – because such a move would help to tackle the “biodiversity and climate crisis and restore lost ecosystems”.
So Paul Davey takes the view that by decimating the wildlife at Kings Pond we enhance it, and by getting rid of Alton’s greatest natural asset we are helping to address climate change.
So a minor technical officer at the EA has these odd ideas, Alton Town Council take his views as gospel and want to take Kings Pond offline and create an ugly mess with virtually no wildlife, nor even any river most summers when it dries up.
No large pond and virtually all the wildlife goes elsewhere and who knows how many thousands of fish would die.
The majority of the previous councillors retired and a new council came along in May, making promises which were on the front page of the local paper that they were going to preserve Kings Pond.
Now they too have gone the way of the previous council and published much the same management plan as the previous council stating it is recommended that the management plan for the site gives strong consideration to the removal of the pond in its current form and re-profiling the river to greatly improve the ecological benefits.
They quote the same nonsensical letter from Paul Davey of the Environment Agency, which is clearly simplistic in the extreme and full of empty assertions about biodiversity and addressing climate change.
So again we have a tiny number of people threatening the greatest act of environmental vandalism that could be inflicted on Alton in its history, by taking away Kings Pond and again this is causing a great deal of anxiety among all the people who love and care about it.
What makes this even more astonishing is they are doing it for such spurious and juvenile reasons, all of which are in Paul Davey’s letter.
Instead of celebrating, enhancing and protecting the town’s greatest asset, they want to destroy it. It’s beyond belief.
The new Alton Town Council should not do this – and they almost certainly will not do this because the costs and scale of the work would be astronomical.
But they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for raising anxiety levels about it all over again, when those anxieties seemed to have disappeared with the retirement of the previous council.
By John Williams