The Environment Agency has come up with an ingenious method of testing hard to reach waters

The Environment Agency (EA) is using a hovercraft to test the cleanliness of water in the estuaries and harbours of the southwest.

Under the European Water Framework Directive, the EA is obliged to assess the health of our coastal waters by monitoring climate change and pollution. To do this it takes mud samples, which are then sent away for analysis.

However, many of the sampling points are in hard to reach areas, not accessible by foot or boat as samples usually need to be taken at low tide. To combat this problem the EA has been using a miniature hovercraft on the Fal and Camel estuaries in Cornwall, the Taw and Torridge in north Devon, and Poole Harbour in Dorset.

Not surprisingly, the EA’s inventive method has resulted in a few raised eyebrows from onlookers. “We sometimes get strange looks because people don’t expect to see a hovercraft on their local estuary. It’s a bit different to your usual coastal craft,” said Amy Beard of the EA.

Caption: EA officers set off at Poole Harbour