Task force is set to tackle loch’s toxic menace

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A new group formed to combat Linlithgow Loch’s recurring toxic algae nightmare has staged a meeting in a bid to thrash out a plan.

Key partners in the newly-formed Strategic Management Group aim to find “a long term achievable and sustainable solution and joint management plan” to deal with the loch’s “complex” problems – which recently led to a public health and safety warning.

Partners in the group include Historic Environment Scotland (HES) Scottish Water, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, the council, Scottish Government and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, along with local community representatives.

HES acting chief executive Dr David Mitchell, who chaired the initial meeting, said the loch’s problems would take “a considerable time to address”, but said the group is lucky to have experts on board who have tackled similar problems elsewhere.

He warned there was no “quick fix” to the problem, but said the group would put measures in place to try and help lessen the effects.

The algae, which can release toxins, is often found in freshwater lakes, streams, ponds and other water ecosystems.

A regular sample and testing programme to monitor the loch’s water quality and condition is already in place, and as part of the on-going water monitoring, advisory signs around the loch are updated regularly to highlight the presence and toxicity of blooms.

Meanwhile a sub working group has been established to look at how to apply water quality monitoring practices and techniques.

Another important phase in the group’s plan will follow the group’s next meeting in November.