Concerns are growing that the ‘precious’ natural environment of Lochmaben’s Mill Loch is under triple threat.
The deep loch is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but has deteriorated in recent years due to the spread of an invasive water lily which has damaged the flora and fauna.
There are also local concerns about small amounts of raw sewage being reported in the loch after heavy rain, as well as the presence of higher than normal levels of blue-green algae in summer, which may pose a hazard to the health of people and animals, including dogs.
This week Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell called a rally at the loch to discuss what he says is now “an urgent need” to find a way to protect it.
He organized the outdoor meeting this week between concerned residents, the community council and official organizations including the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), NatureScot, Dumfries and Galloway Council and an expert from Barony College from Parkgate.
And he has the backing of concerned local residents in a campaign to gain more official support to help restore the site to its former glory.
After the meeting, he said he now had more hope for the future of the loch.
He said: ‘I understand the strength of feeling in the town and in the region about protecting this very precious place which is in danger of further deterioration if there is not careful intervention.
“When approached by local constituents I felt it was important to have all official stakeholders on board so everyone could work together to improve and protect the Mill Loch in a coordinated way.
“It was obvious that a loch management plan was needed and I am pleased that the organizations concerned have set out over the coming month to assess what they might be able to contribute.”
He added: “The Mill Loch, like other lochs in the town, has a finely balanced biodiversity and ecosystem and it is important that the right steps are taken. The loch and trails are also a tremendous natural asset for local people and visitors, and community involvement and local knowledge are vitally important.