Fish moved from Maxey Cut as water levels drop

Levels in this channel of the River Welland are dangerously low

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Fish are being removed from a stretch of water in Cambridgeshire after the regional drought caused water levels to drop.

The Environment Agency has begun to take fish out of the Maxey Cut which runs between Peterborough and Market Deeping in Lincolnshire.

Low rainfall and two dry winters in a row have caused "exceptionally low" river flows, an agency spokesman said.

The thousands of transported fish will be released into the River Welland.

David Hawley, the agency's northern area drought manager, said the area had seen the lowest rainfall on record across Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and parts of Cambridgeshire over the last 16 months.

The rainfall for the period was 600mm (23.6in) - 200mm (7.8in) below average.

"The Maxey Cut is already showing signs of environmental stress as a result of the drought," he said.

Fish 'under stress'

"Taking early action in a controlled manner is better for the fish as they will be spawning in April and May.

"Once the weather starts to warm up and weed growth increases, dissolved oxygen levels are likely to drop putting them under more stress.

"Early action also reduces the risk of disturbing breeding birds and will help to increase water levels within the River Welland itself."

The operation to remove the fish from the 9km (5.5 mile) cut - which was created as a flood relief channel for the River Welland - is expected to take about two weeks.

Water will be diverted from the Maxey Cut while the work takes place.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said fish would recolonise the strait naturally.

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