Investigation after reedbed removed from River Lea near Stratford

An investigation is under way into why 1,000 square metres of reeds were removed from the River Lea close to Stratford High Street.

A boat was seen in the river shortly before the 25 x 40 metre reedbed was ripped out on January 24.

The site in Hunts Lane, �formerly under the ownership of the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), has since been sold on for development. There is no suggestion the �current landowners were �involved in the removal of the reedbed.

An Environmental Agency spokesman said it hoped to �conclude the investigation swiftly.

He said: “The reedbeds are �important wildlife habitats for may creatures, particularly in the River Lea Navigation where only fragments remain.

“It’s important that they are not removed but are enhanced and extended.”

Reedbeds are naturally formed habitats which soak up pollutants from nearby roads and �sewage pipes. Fresh water is then filtered back into the eco-system. They are also a haven for wildlife and vegetation.

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Canalkeeper Theo Thomas, from the Thames21 Waterways charity, said natural drainage systems were important to the river. He said: “This reduces the risk of sewage backing up into people’s homes, and cuts the pressure on the sewage treatment, seeing fewer overflows.”