AN ASHFORD Hill man who pulled several dead fish from a village stream has slammed the decision to allow a developer to discharge sewage effluent into the already-polluted waterway from July.
John Young said he and other villagers had written to the Environment Agency (EA) with concerns about a permit granted to Persimmon Homes to enable treated sewage effluent from a 35-house development opposite Ashford Hill Primary School to be discharged into Baughurst Brook, which runs through the village.
Describing the permit as a “total disgrace”, Mr Young claimed it had been granted based on “inaccurate and unsound” data.
“The EA’s reported measurements, monitored so far downstream from the discharge points, ignore the significant dilution of effluent by intervening tributary channels, so reported data understates breaches of pollutant limits at the existing and planned discharge points,” he said.
In addition, he said there was no evidence of how the EA would ‘police’ water quality and check discharge points next to the bridge on the B3051.
In March 2014, Mr Young wrote to the EA with concerns about existing pollution in the brook, which runs through the end of his garden.
“I had to remove seven dead trout from the water,” he wrote, adding that on several occasions he had noticed a strong smell of sewage.
“I am concerned that the stream is being severely overloaded with pollutants from either old or poorly-maintained treatment plants, together with the increase in dwellings, which obviously have to discharge waste into the stream,” he said.
An EA statement on March 10 confirmed the granting of the permit, effective from July 1.
It went on: “As we have made a full assessment of the application prior to the permit being issued, we have no reason to revoke the permit.”
“The permit has no time limit, but does include conditions limiting the volume that can be discharged and requiring the effluent to be treated to specified standards to protect the quality of the receiving watercourse i.e. the Baughurst Brook. The conditions are legally binding.”
It added that the EA had contacted the local community while assessing the permit application and responded to their concerns at that stage.
“We have received the complaints since the permit has been issued,” the statement said. “We are in the process of reviewing these in order to provide responses to those concerned parties.”
The issue has received strong support from villagers, parish and borough councillors.
In a motion calling for protection of the borough’s waterways, presented at a Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council meeting last December, councillor Ken Rhatigan (Con, Kingsclere) said the brook, which flowed from a SSSI, was already polluted and would be under “renewed pressure” due to any new permit.