Gem in peril

PUBLISHED: 11:58 08 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:15 06 May 2010

SIR, — Verulamium Park is the emerald in the crown of St Albans.... and it is the lake that adds such a special sparkle to this gem. I share the concerns of your correspondent Bernard Stay about proposals to change the shape of the lake, and especially to

SIR, - Verulamium Park is the emerald in the crown of St Albans.... and it is the lake that adds such a special sparkle to this gem.

I share the concerns of your correspondent Bernard Stay about proposals to change the shape of the lake, and especially to break up the concrete basin and naturalise the lake edges.

A fundamental principle of change is first to establish the need for change. Yes, there is a problem with blue/green algae in the summer. But I remain to be convinced that the latest - albeit resurrected - radical solution to rid the lake of this problem, is any more likely to succeed than a previous multi-agency project involving many of the same key organisations, including ecological specialists.

This was an expensive planting scheme in each of the four corners of the lake some 15 years ago, aimed at restoring the balance of the lake's eco system. A few large rocks and some sad-looking plants near the bridge are all that remain of this costly failed attempt at change.

The latest proposed change is an act of destruction as much as creation. What is being destroyed is a beautifully-designed and constructed lake that has stood the test of time and provided lovely views, peace and tranquillity to generations.

A lake hewn by hand, with picks and shovels wielded by 200 manual labourers, mainly ex-servicemen from the distressed areas of South Wales and Jarrow, between September 15, 1930, and November, 30, 1931.

For us now to break up the essential concrete basin that holds the water, risks destroying the lake as we know it. Water may just drain away through the soil. Do we really want to risk such irreversible damage?

And what will be created by the latest proposals ? I suspect more of a bog than a picturesque lake. A bog screened from view by planting - which is unlikely to be properly maintained - and with few access points.

As another correspondent, Eric Roberts , has perceptively pointed out, perhaps all that's needed is a little TLC and what we have can be restored to its former glory - a jewel with renewed sparkle.

As a post-script, I should point out that a major cause of the pollution in the lake is lack of water flow. The lake was originally designed to receive a constant flow of water from the adjacent River Ver. Regrettably, the lake has been left stagnant by the unilateral decision of the water authorities to stop this supply. Perhaps lobbying or legal challenge may lead to the rightful restoration of this flow of freshwater.

DR ROBERT WAREING,

Claudian Place, St Albans.

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