CAMPAIGNERS battling to prevent treated sewage being discharged into the River Lambourn got a boost this week.
West Berkshire Council planners have written to developers insisting they produce an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The row concerns a new housing development at Teekay Farm in Weston, which was granted planning permission eight years ago.
The developers subsequently sought to bypass sewage mains and to use a cheaper option of discharging semi-treated effluent directly into the river, a globally rare chalk stream which is doubly protected, both as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and as a Special Area of Conservation.
Council planners consulted the Environment Agency (EA), which controversially granted a permit for the discharge – a decision which “beggared belief” according to the national Angling Trust.
Trust chief executive Mark Lloyd said: “The EA has a duty to maintain, improve and develop fisheries – it does not have a duty to increase the profits of housing developers.”
The campaign had attracted 2,778 signatures by today (Tuesday).
The latest salvo, from West Berkshire Council planners, states: “The development site at Teekay Farm at Weston is located in an area where the quality of the local watercourses is particularly sensitive and the local planning authority is very concerned about any potential impact on water quality in the immediate vicinity of outfall into the sensitive streams and rivers.
“The Local Planning Authority (LAP) considers the proposed development is likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of facts such as its nature, size and location. As such, the LPA concludes an EIA is required.”
One of the villagers, Kirsteen Roberts, said: “We’re really pleased about this.
“It means the developer has to produce a report that goes into all the different options to deal with sewage.
“They must cover all the points that the council has asked them to cover.
“It also requires the developer to consult with us and with all other interested parties.”
She added: “That’s what we’ve wanted all along. After all, we’re going to have to live with the consequences.”
Mrs Roberts said there was a perception that the council could have taken such measures earlier, but that it was nevertheless an extremely welcome move.
Newbury MP Richard Benyon has also been critical of an Environment Agency decision to approve treated effluent being discharged into the highly protected chalk stream.
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