FOR three weeks an unpleasant pong has hung over Gosport town centre.
But the council says work to tackle the source of the stench cannot go ahead without permission from a government agency.
The Walpole Park pond – where the smell is coming from – is part of the Portsmouth Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
This means any work which needs to be carried out on the pond needs to be approved by Natural England in case the its rare saline lagoon habitat is damaged.
Gosport Borough Council is now preparing information for the agency for them to consider whether any work can take place.
Labour ward councillor for the area June Cully said: ‘We are in the hands of Natural England and we have to respect that it is a protected site so we have to comply with these regulations.
‘We need to put pressure on and say this has been going on for years now.
‘It would have been nice if Natural England could have let us flush it quicker.
‘It’s a horrible smell. I thought it smelled like a drain but it’s definitely coming from the lake area.
‘Because we had that long run of sun I think that gave it a chance to really get going.’
The cause of the smell is still unknown and the council is carrying out tests on the water.
Various causes have been suggested including the sudden hot weather, algae or an excess of bread which people feed to swans.
The council has placed barley straw bales in the pond in an attempt to soak up the smell.
William Bailey, 85, of Rowner Lane, Gosport, said: ‘Years ago we never had any smell from the pond. They have a big sluice gate to let the water out.
‘We’re very lucky to have a pond like that.
‘It’s a good asset that should be looked after.
‘Natural England should improve the pond if they possibly can.’
The smell has plagued the area for years and often arrives after a spell of hot weather.
Patricia Hughes, 64, of Lester Road in Gosport, said: ‘I’ve lived here all my life and when we were children we used to go swimming there.
‘They used to drain it every year but they don’t do it any more.
‘They’re blaming it on the swans but I’m not really sure.’