Fleet Pond Society is preparing a bid for lottery money to rescue Fleet Pond.

The pond has been silting up for years and unless the silt flow is stopped and dredging is done, Hampshire's largest freshwater lake will slowly disappear.

Pond Society chairman Colin Gray said that Hart Council has hired a consultant to prepare a detailed quote for the dredging work. But before any dredging is done, the silt flow has to be stopped.

He said that would hopefully be done by the Ministry of Defence building a "settlement pond" for silt in the area near the pond where they have cut down many trees. The Army intends to build the settlement area when funds become available in 2003.

Then dredging can begin and it will be a long job. The last silt survey in 2000 showed that 134,000 cubic metres of silt needs to be dredged out and disposed of, and since that time much more has built up.

The work will take two to three years and the wet sludge will be dumped in an area near the nature reserve car park. It will be fenced off, to stop people and animals getting stuck in the mire.

Mr Gray said that the work could cost up to £1½ million and would inevitably cause some disruption to wildlife, but he said the work would save the pond and nature would eventually recover.