GLASGOW District Council chiefs have closed Hogganfield Loch because

of concerns for safety after three mounds of mud appeared on the


Visitors to the loch yesterday, who took just a fleeting glance at the

mounds, could be excused for believing that a descendant of the

much-vaunted Loch Ness monster had perhaps flown its lair in the north

of Scotland to hang its hat nearer Glasgow.

However, the council's parks and recreation department is not treating

the mysterious appearance of the mounds lightly. It has posted notices

warning the public to keep off. The council has also banned boat hire

and suspended daily motor launch sailings pending an investigation.

A council spokesman dismissed a report that the mounds had been caused

by a build-up of poisonous methane gas in old mineworkings which are

said to have existed in the area. He said officials had removed samples.

He said it was more likely the problem was similar to one which had

existed at Lanark Loch for more than 15 years. The matter had been

discussed with experts from Clyde River Purification Board who had

constantly monitored the situation at Lanark. Board officials will visit

Hogganfield next week.

Dr Andrew Haig, the board's chief scientist, explained yesterday that

problems at Lanark Loch had resulted from a quite natural thick, matted

fibrous mass of roots from vegetation rising to the surface.

The process occurred after organic matter in the bed of the loch

decayed, causing the natural gases, methane and carbon dioxide, to lift

a peaty growth of roots from the loch bed to the surface.

Lanark Loch was closed for almost a year because of fears that

children using boats could be involved in an accident after hitting one

of the mounds.

The council's main fear at Hogganfield, he said, was that people using

the loch may step from vessels on to the surface of the mounds, which at

Lanark had been like ''giant floating sponges''.

Dr Haig said no effluent discharge would result and the water quality

was likely to remain good in the loch, which has been a haven for

birdlife for many years. It was his view that a build-up of poisonous

methane gas in old mineworkings under the loch bed

at Hogganfield was ''most unlikely''.

He added: ''We are really talking about a natural event which is

probably more pronounced in the summer giving rise to this fibrous

material lifting off the bed and appearing on the surface.''

The council spokesman, meanwhile, said facilities at Hogganfield Loch

would remain closed for at least another week until the result of the

investigation was known.

Mr Edward Lynas, 50, of Ruchazie, who occasionally visits the loch

with his grandson, said he was concerned to learn of the possibility

that methane gases could be the cause of the problem. He called on the

council to investigate the matter immediately.

His views were echoed by Mr Tom Clark, who has lived in the Lochview

Estate overlooking the loch since 1982. ''It is the first I have heard

of any problems,'' he said. ''I hope the council can solve the problem

quickly because the loch is a very popular attraction, especially on a

fine day.''