AN abandoned car left in the River Evenlode for at least one month has sparked pollution fears.

The vehicle remains stranded in the water in Swan Lane, between the West Oxfordshire villages of Long Hanborough and Combe, despite repeated requests for it to be fished out.

Environment Agency surveys show the car is not a pollution risk, but Merilyn Davies, district councillor for Freeland and Hanborough, is worried it could harm wildlife and even humans.

She said: "The concern is not that the car looks unsightly but that pollutants such as petrol, brake fluid, metal corrosion and hydrocarbons are restricting oxygen in the water and killing fish.

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"It is inconceivable this car has not already heavily polluted the river and its further corrosion will only exacerbate this.

"The river is used by children and families to swim and fish and I think taxpayers would appreciate their funds going towards keeping them safe."

Oxford Mail:

The agency says the ‘onus’ for removal is on the vehicle's owner, or the owner of the nearest land.

But Liam Walker, county councillor for Hanborough and Minster Lovell, claimed the agency should take responsibility.

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He said: "“I’m really annoyed at how long this is taking the district council to action and I’m surprised to hear the Environment Agency has no concern over pollution from the vehicle.

"I would assume there is oil, fuel, and other liquids in the vehicle so I think they are actually just avoiding paying for its removal which is unacceptable - their job is to help protect our environment."

Mr Walker acknowledged the difficulties surrounding the removal process, but appealed for quick action.

He added: "I’m aware there are difficulties around needing to use a small crane vehicle to lift it out and this can’t be done from the bridge.

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"I and others continue to ask Oxfordshire County Council's highways team and the district council to work together to get the car out before it ends up becoming a permanent feature.”

West Oxfordshire District Council's Environmental and Regulatory Services team is working with the agency and Oxfordshire County Council to remove the car.

Oxford Mail:

A spokesperson said: "This is not a simple operation and several factors, not least the safety of those involved and the need to minimise any risk of pollutants entering the water, must be considered.

"For that reason it is proving to be a slower-than-normal procedure. The owner of the car has been contacted and is aware they will be expected to pay associated costs.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We have asked the owner of the vehicle by letter to remove it. Yes, it’s unsightly, but the car is not a flood or pollution risk, and we have not received any reports of either.

"If the Environment Agency removed it, the cost to the taxpayer would be disproportionate to the benefit – if any – doing so would achieve.

“Removing the car from the river is a matter for the owner or that of the land closest to the vehicle.”