A CALL for the Ministry of Defence to prevent a "disaster" at Fleet Pond has been made by the town's Tories.

They fear that the pond's wildlife and plants will be lost completely if immediate action isn't taken to stop it silting up.

In recent years there has been a sharp decline in fish, particularly tench and pike, as well as aquatic vegetation.

Hart Coun Jan Pearson, one of those leading the campaign, said the problem was caused by sand running into the pond from the MoD's tank training area at Long Valley, as the Star reported and pictured three weeks ago.

"This has caused the pond level to rise to such an extent that the situation is now gravely serious," she said. Describing it as a disastrous problem, she called on the MoD to honour its promise to stop the sand escaping into the pond.

"They have consistently dragged their feet and failed to deliver," she continued.

According to Coun Pearson, the MoD has said it cannot carry out any work for another 12 months. This is far too late," she said. "There won't be any water left by then." The remedial work would involve clearing two silt traps, constructed in the mid 1990s at Long Valley, to intercept the sand.

This work should be done about every 18 months, but Coun Pearson said one of the traps had not been touched for five years.

The MoD tried to clear the other recently, but only succeeded in releasing tons of additional silt into what is Hampshire's largest freshwater lake.

Picture: Only ankle deep now as Fleet Pond slowly disappears. From left: Coun Jan Pearson, Dave Goddard and Fleet MP James Arbuthnot.