Update on the Crammer

Devizes Town Council announced the result of an assessment by the Environment Agency yesterday, following last week’s outbreak of pollution in Crammar, a spillage from a van fire on the road aside it. Their advise was simply that a sheen “on the surface of the water usually looks worse than it is and although unsightly is a good sign that the quantity of the contaminate is low.”

If the accident has done one good thing, it’s opened a Pandora’s box concerning the overall suitability for wildlife on and around the Crammar, and questions I believe need addressing with a whole heap more clarity than this rather vague Environmental Report.

As much as I respect their professional experience and want this to be actual, they did not heartbreakingly witness Swan Support trudge through the pond to rescue swans drenched in thick black oil, because no environmental officer or town councillor took the opportunity to attend the rescue, no matter what social media groups might suggest. It has left me pondering if “usually looks worse than it is” is adequate, usually being the operative word.

It’s been a week since we reported the contamination, a week for it to have dispensed more evenly across the Crammar. On their Facebook post, the Council continued to inform the Environmental Agency stated, “it is difficult to clean as it is a thin film and using an oil spill boom won’t be effective. If the weather conditions mean that the wind blows the contamination to the edge of the Crammer then a boom might be more effective to absorb it, but it is more likely to degrade and disperse.” 

Okay, I can buy most of this, but again there’s ambiguity with word usage, such as more likely, well, I find myself asking how likely? The weather has been clement and wind has reduced to a gentle breeze of recent. It is unclear when this assessment was made. As it is the oil has dispersed fairly well, though few ducks have returned to the Crammar.

The bigger issue is, though, it has been raised that the last time the pond was dredged it was discovered the drains taking rainwater off the road flow directly into the Crammar. Clearly pollution has been a gradual process over many decades, as the rain water mixes with spilt oils from vehicles from the road; the fire was the poo flavoured icing on the cake.

The statement from the Council continues to question the fire crew too, stating “the Environment Agency have reviewed the Fire Service report and advised that most of the fuel should’ve been burnt off.” Is it just me here, reading too much into this; most of the fuel SHOULD’VE been burnt off? But was it, how can we be so sure? Because the grand finale is: “having reviewed this information it was deemed unnecessary for a site visit to be made.” It almost connotes the fire service was at fault here, when surely it is their priority to put the fire out, ensure safety, and the fact is Devizes Fire crew went above and beyond, by doing the best they could to protect the wildlife, while the Environmental Agency rolled up days later and the Council deemed it not worthy of their attention!

This is the Crammar we’re talking about, a much love facility, a historic tourist attraction, and it seems to me to be treated like a giant puddle, no more worthy than a pothole. Swan Support suggested the area as wholly unsuitable for wildlife, particularly for the swans, as there was no natural food source; they relied on handouts. On one social media thread someone even suggested mouldy bread and leftover takeaways were their staple diet, speculation this maybe, but it was evident those rescued were malnourished, in such poor condition they couldn’t fly away.

Good folk are now asking us as to the welfare of the rescued swans and if they’ll be returning, like we’re experts, when we’re not, just concerned residents. Thankfully we have heard back that the swans are doing well. But surely, we have to accept to return them to the Crammar may not be the best option for them, swans are territorial and new cygnets will find their own natural way to the pond by May, and the cycle continues.

I implore Devizes Town Council to reassess this issue. I accept there is no overnight solution, but with no natural food source for wildfowl the Crammer is unsuitable and potentially harmful to wildlife. I’m no expert but would hope for Council to seek further specialised advise.

I believe issues which need to be looked into is creating a wild area aside the pond, adequate for a natural food source. I believe the overflow pipes, if flowing into the pond need redirecting into a drain, so the water is less polluted in general, and not just in event of an incident such as the recent fire. And I would seriously consider the safety issues of having the roadside of the Crammar as the concrete slope leading directly onto the road, as it currently is; if ducks and swans don’t wander onto the road, what if a swan scared a child who did?

Let’s look to a better future for this landmark, cleaner, safer, conservational and obliging to supporting wildlife. Who’s with me?

Can we get some feedback from Devizes Town Council this will be discussed as soon as feasible, or what, do I gotta sort out a petition?! Thank you!


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