URGENT action is needed to protect the ‘precious’ natural environment at Lochmaben’s Mill Loch, according to Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell.
He was backing concerned local residents in their campaign to get more official support to help restore the beautyspot to its former glory.
The deep loch, which has Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) designation, has deteriorated in recent years because of the spread of an invasive water lily which has damaged wildlife and plant life.
There are also local concerns about small quantities of raw sewage reported in the loch after heavy rainfall and the presence of higher than normal levels for blue-green algae which can be a health hazard to people and animals, such as dogs.
Mr Mundell organised an open-air meeting this week between concerned residents, the community council and official organisations including Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), NatureScot, Dumfries and Galloway Council and an expert from Barony College, Parkgate.
After the gathering, held at the side of the loch, the constituency MSP said: “I understand the strength of feeling in the town and wider area about protecting this very precious place which is at risk of deteriorating further if there is not some careful intervention.
“When I was approached by local constituents I believed it was important to have all the official stakeholders on board so everyone can work together to improve and protect the Mill Loch in a co-ordinated way.
“It was evident that a loch management plan was required and I’m pleased that the organisations concerned have undertaken over the coming month to assess what they may be able to contribute.
“The Mill Loch, like the other lochs in the town, have a finely balanced biodiversity and ecosystem and it is important the correct steps are taken.”
Mr Mundell added: “The loch and paths are also a tremendous natural asset for local people and visitors and community involvement and local knowledge are vitally important.”