WEEDS which have left a stretch of the River Colne covered in a film of green will “disperse naturally”, it has been revealed.

An increase in azolla and duck weed in the water affected the Colchester stretch of the waterway over the summer.

The issue has been put down to a succession of hot summers and limited rainfall.

Campaigners have been calling for action and young eco-warrior Noah Wilkinson, 11, launched a petition and campaign calling for Colchester Council to step up its efforts to improve the state of the river.

The on-going saga was raised at a meeting of Colchester Council.

Labour councillor Lee Scordis and Tory councillor Simon Crow both quizzed environment boss Martin Goss about the clean-up.

In a letter, seen by the Gazette, Mr Crow was told the Environment Agency would only step in if there was a risk of flooding or to wildlife.

Mr Goss said council officers had met with the agency and he had held a conference call as he “wasn’t satisfied with the answers”.

He said: “Two really hot summers and the sunlight has helped create this mess and a lack of river flow means it has built up. It is not a danger to wildlife, it is just unsightly.

“Naturally it should disperse with rising river and rainfall and wash out.”

Mr Goss said the council had asked if it could hire Environment Agency staff to tackle the weeds, but was told this was not possible.

He said the agency had given details of external providers and the council had been contacted by a firm at the Hythe.

Mr Goss said despite assurances the weeds would disperse the council would continue to check if it “needs a helping hand”.

But speaking after the meeting Mr Crow called for more action.

He said: “The river is in a sorry state with this thick mat of duckweed and water fern that has sat on it throughout the summer and is still there now in mid-October.

“There are even drinks cans and other rubbish sitting on top of it.

“Now is the time to create an action plan for future years should this problem arise again, which it likely will.

“That plan needs to be created swiftly and made public so that residents can have faith that there will be no future failure to manage and care for our river.”