CONCERN has been raised about the “ridiculous” state of the boating pond at Musselburgh Lagoons, which is “congested with rotting weed”.

Local resident and kayaking coach Dougie Williams claimed the watersports attraction had been “left to ruin over many years”.

He branded the water “dirty, smelly and weed-infested”, adding that rats were spotted recently.

He claimed the potholed access road had been left unrepaired and was in a “dangerous condition”, adding that Levenhall Links, where the boating pond was situated, was meant to be for the “common good” of local people.

He said mounds of weed cut by contractors had been “dumped”.

“In all previous years, the cut weed was removed out of the pond almost immediately but not this time,” said Mr Williams.

“A group of us formed the Musselburgh Lagoons Boating Pond Improvement Group a few years ago. East Lothian Council looked at our proposals and employed consultants to carry out a feasibility study from which recommendations and options were provided.

East Lothian Courier: Boating pond

“We really need the council to follow up on these proposals and at least maintain the area to a safe standard before it’s too late.”

Mr Williams said that the group had hoped the pond would be relined and the road fixed.

He added that a proposal for a new pond with disabled access facilities, changing rooms and toilets had also been mooted.

The improvement group was made up of different pond users such as the model boat and sailing enthusiasts, as well as kayakers.

Mr Williams, a member of Edinburgh Kayak Club and Lothian Sea Kayak Club, said: “The pond is quite unique in that it is one of the only inland waters in the county for safe practice for kayakers and paddleboarders.

“Due to the extremely poor condition of the access road and pond weed, users are taking to the sea without proper training and experience, and it’s only a matter of time before there is an incident.

“Many of our club members and coaches simply refuse to attend the lagoon session now due to the road access and weed problems.

East Lothian Courier: Musselburgh resident and kayaking coach Dougie Williams wants action to improve the boating pond and access road at the lagoons

Musselburgh resident and kayaking coach Dougie Williams wants action to improve the boating pond and access road at the lagoons

“There is ample space for all kinds of leisure activities which can easily operate in complete harmony with the natural environment, yet the council seem intent on simply making it a wild grassy area.

“The access road can only be described as ‘a very bumpy ride’. There are more potholes than road.

“Over the years, it has been left to deteriorate.”

A council spokesperson said: “Levenhall Links is an area that combines recreational opportunities with important nature conservation requirements and is part of the Firth of Forth Special Protection Area.

“Management of this area requires careful consideration and the need to balance a diverse range of interests.

“The links were created by reclaiming land from the sea by the use of pulverised ash from the former Cockenzie Power Station and one of the earliest facilities was the creation of a boating pond which remains well liked and well used.

“In common with other inland water courses, the boating pond experiences the growth of aquatic weed which is challenging to control.

Mechanical cutting

“Previous control methods included the application of aquatic herbicide which is no longer available, so the council has to resort to mechanical cutting, which is a specialised operation with limited availability of contractors.

“Normally three cutting days a year are booked but to date this year 13 cuts have been carried out, with a commitment for a further three cutting days later in the season, which is more than five times the usual level of control.

“The cuttings have been immediately collected by amenity services after each cut, with the exception of the last cut due to our staff carrying out other ground services during the summer season, but these will be removed shortly.

“Whilst we are aware that some improvements could be carried out, including replacing the lining of the boating pond, it remains an extremely popular facility and used primarily by the council’s outdoor education service and the outdoor activities provider Venturing Out, who continue to provide ongoing activity at the boating pond.

“Regular water quality tests have returned excellent results, confirming the management of the facility is providing the required standard for a range of water activities.

“The access road is in poor condition and, with funds not available to bring it up to an acceptable standard, 5mph speed limit signs are displayed and visitors are encouraged to park at the perimeter car parks.

“During these particularly challenging financial times, local authorities are required to identify priorities which aim to benefit and improve communities as widely as possible, but inevitably as a result, some more specialised requirements can’t be met.”

She said the council was in touch with pest controllers with regard to the rats.