A GIANT lake has appeared within the grounds of a property just outside Andover, dividing neighbours' opinions.

The owners of Monxton Manor, in Monxton, have dug out the lake at the rear of the privately-owned property.

They say it is contributing to the local wildlife, however a neighbouring farmer says it ‘breaks the rules’.

Kurt Morton, who works on land next door to the lake, says it ‘ruins’ the natural environment and also falls within the conservation area.

He said: “My main concerns are the natural habitat has been ruined there. That’s thousands of years to make that.

“It’s only ever been bog land and wetland and that area serves a purpose in the environment. it collects water and the peat holds water like a sponge in wet weather.

“I want to know why he’s been allowed to do that in the conservation area, why Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) have allowed that because he’s clearly broken the rules.”

He added: “If I had done that as a farmer I would end up in court or have an unlimited fine on my hands. I just can’t believe they haven’t shut it down before it happened.”

“I just find it really sad that there’s habitat like that that’s been ruined and Test Valley Borough Council don’t care at all. It’s one rule for one and somebody else can get away with it.”

The owners of the property, however, believe the lake will in fact contribute to the local wildlife.

They have also confirmed they have “spoken to the relevant authorities” about having the lake dug out.

While TVBC would be the relevant authority to deal with issues surrounding planning permission, the government’s Environmental Agency would be the relevant body for matters relating to wildlife and the local environment.

The Advertiser contacted TVBC and the authority has confirmed it is currently investigating the matter.

The Environmental Agency has also been contacted for an official comment on the situation.

A statement from the group read: "The Environment Agency is a statutory advisor within the planning system. However, it would be the Local Planning Authority (LPA) that would be responsible for granting any planning permission for this type of construction. If permission had not been granted, it would be matter for the LPA's Enforcement Team.

"The Environment Agency has no record of being consulted on any planning applications for the construction of a lake, and can find no current or historic planning applications for this on the TVBC website.

"It should be noted that any works located in, over, under or within eight metres of a main river or 16 metres or a tidal defence, is likely to require a Flood Risk Activity Permit from the Environment Agency. The need for an environmental permit is separate to the need for planning permission. The granting of planning permission does not necessarily lead to the granting of an environmental permit."