Waterways in the Solent area are being choked by the rapid growth of seaweed.

Waterways in the Solent area are being choked by the rapid growth of seaweed. Langstone Harbour is particularly badly affected, says the Environment Agency, but the seaweed build up is also affecting areas of Chichester and Portsmouth harbours, the Hamble, the Medina estuary, and Poole harbour.

Agricultural run-offs and sewage pollution are being blamed for accelerating the growth of the algae, which threatens wildlife by disrupting the food chain and could turn affected areas into barren wastelands. Physically removing the algae would cause more damage to mudflats than the seaweed is doing, but stricter rules have already been introduced to prevent fertilisers getting into rivers.

The Environment Agency wants to study the resulting effects before taking further action. “It’s a slow process”, said a spokesman, “It might not be 10 years before we see a change, but if we don’t get a change then it may mean we have another round of regulations.”