With the Berkeley Homes appeal decision expected in just two weeks – and its predicted approval for 425 houses – WW wonders if the mucky brown stuff is about to hit the fan, big time !
In a shock announcement to-day and following months of research and pressure from The Cranleigh Civic Society, the Environment Agency has admitted, in writing… that the Cranleigh Waters, into which Thames Water currently dumps the areas’ sewage effluent, is exceeding legal safety limits and is “technically infeasible” to address.
The Society, formed a year ago in the wake of the failure of Waverley’s Local Plan, and a massive influx of developers beating at Cranleigh’s doors, is showing itself to be a force to be reckoned with.
If you want to read more about the CCS and its extensive research take a look at the Cranleigh Society website www.cranleighsociety.org/ which includes a piece headed “WHERE IS BERKELEY HOMES GOING TO SEND THEIR SEWAGE?”
The Society has requested urgent meetings with the Environment Agency and Waverley Borough Council to discuss the latest findings because the quantity and quality of effluent going into the “Cranleigh Waters,” is controlled by the Environment Agency via a document called a ‘Permit Limit.’ The last licence was issued to Thames Water in 2009, and is now long overdue for renewal, but if Thames Water exceed the permitted level of effluent being discharged into the river, quite simply – it can be fined!
Waverley Council has not assessed the sewage position in Cranleigh, despite the significant number of planning applications in the system, but say they are, “now looking into it,” after having had the matter brought to their attention by the Cranleigh Society.
WW asks, why is it left to a local civic organisation to uncover this disgraceful situation? Why has such an important issue been overlooked by the council who as part of the planning process must consult statutory agencies! Why hasn’t the MP Anne Milton acted, she heads a group looking into Alfold’s sewage and flooding concerns? A village where Waverley Planners voted through another 55 houses last week!
If you are a resident of Cranleigh or any of the villages around it – join the CCS now – because WW believes it is working tirelessly, on your behalf, to protect your environment over there in the East of the borough and deserves support!
Cranleigh has recently been designated a “Protected Zone” by the EA to help defend a major drinking water abstraction point for Guildford, a short distance away downstream.
Note: The Cranleigh Waters is now judged by the EA as”ephemeral” meaning – it flows well in winter but not during the summer. The issue with the flow rate began four years ago but last October, for a period, it stopped flowing altogether.
This is due to water abstraction and low aquifers ( a body of permeable rock which can contain or transmit groundwater) upstream, increasing population density and onset of global warming. The consequence of this has been to turn Cranleigh Waters into a “eutrophic” water body, which means that it is rich in nutrients and promotes plant growth, at the expense of providing a suitable habitat for fish, amphibians and invertebrates.
Cranleigh’ 50 year-old Sewage Works was built to serve between 10,000 / 15,000 people in Cranleigh, Ewhurst, Hascombe and all villages around. The addition of the recently approved developments at Amlets Lane, Crest Nicholson (Horsham Road) and Sweeters’ Copse, Alfold, none of which have detailed planning permission! and many more, which when built, will take it well over the 15,000 residents limit. Planning applications for many thousands more dwellings are also in the pipeline!
Since 2009, The EA has classified Cranleigh Waters as “Eutrophic and Bad”, the worst category on their ratings scale. Under The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, the 2009 Permit Level should have been regularly reassessed by the EA and reissued, but that has not happened. Why?
Recent data issued by the EA shows that the Permit Level is now being exceeded in all three key water body pollution indicator categories, Solids, Biochemical Oxygen Demand and Ammoniacal Nitrogen.
Before even considering whether the Berkeley Homes site or any other site for that matter, is developed, a new Permit Level should have beeen issued by the EA and a study made to assess whether the Cranleigh Sewage Works can be extended to cope with increased demand, and to assess if Cranleigh Waters can take any more pollution.