A CAMPAIGN has been launched to reduce potentially damaging phosphate levels in the River Loddon.

Basingstoke MP Maria Miller has joined forces with Basingstoke Transition Network in an effort to bring down pollution in the key waterway.

It is hoped that simple changes – such as switching detergent brands – could bring down phosphate levels by 20 per cent over the next decade.

Mrs Miller said: “We can all do our bit to help reduce pollution in the river now and protect our environment by using phosphate-free detergents.

“There are plenty of big brands already available in local supermarkets which are phosphate free. Check the labels when you shop.”

According to the most recent statistics, phosphate levels in the Loddon are six times higher than the EU Water Directive standard for good status. This has a potentially damaging impact on the local environment, and it is feared new homes will only make the problem worse.

Mrs Miller said the Loddon at Basingstoke is particularly in danger as it is at the head of a valley, meaning chemicals can build up where the water flow is weaker.

She added: “With lower water levels in the river due to the ongoing drought, it is all the more urgent that we try to reduce the amount of pollution.

“Of course, detergents are not the only culprit, but their use is |something all of us can play our part in combating.”

Mrs Miller said a programme of education in schools could be launched, while residents and community groups will also get involved.

She has drawn on the example of the experience of a similar campaign at Lake Bassenthwaite, in the Lake District, which achieved a 59 per cent reduction in phosphate levels between 2001 and 2011.

Martin Heath, chairman of the Basingstoke Transition Network, said: “We have been working with Maria to identify the biggest impacts on our environment. Carbon Dioxide emissions and water pollution are probably the two biggest. We need to reduce both. Using less phosphates is one of the easiest things we can do.”

Andy Molloy, from the group, added: “We want to work with local schools, communities, environmental groups and shops to show how very easy, and simple changes could reduce phosphate pollution in the Loddon by 20 per cent.”