Thu, 26 Nov 2020
CONTRACTORS allegedly dumping waste into the River Lambourn could face enforcement action.
Lambourn Parish Council has made a formal complaint to West Berkshire Council over the latest threat to the chalk stream, which supposedly enjoys the highest level of protection.
Some residents fear the fact that illegal dredging at East Garston two years ago has so far gone unpunished by the Environment Agency has encouraged bad behaviour.
In a formal complaint to the district council’s planning enforcement department, parish council chairman Mike Billinge-Jones warned of “rubble, paving slabs and broken bricks that have been thrown into the river... a pile of wood dumped”.
He added: “They have also used a digger to remove the bank.
“I request that this is raised to the highest level.”
Mr Billinge-Jones told the Newbury Weekly News: “They have had several fires and dumped loads of building material in the river since September when I first noticed it.”
District councillor Howard Woolaston (Con, Lambourn) said West Berkshire Council’s enforcement team currently comprised just one full time and one part time person, but added: “I can’t think they won’t be looking at enforcing this.
“However, I believe this is more for the Environment Agency to look at.”
The Environment Agency has also been made aware of the situation at Lambourn.
However, the case of the illegal dredging and possible dumping of asbestos at East Garston remains unresolved, two years on.
Critics warned that a lack of decisive, visible action against the culprits – who reportedly caused damage which cost tens of thousands of pounds to rectify – would encourage other developers to take a cavalier attitude towards supposed protections for the river.
Director of Action for the River Kennet (ARK) Charlotte Hitchmough has warned: “There ought to be consequences for someone who does this.”
The agency took 20 months to complete an initial investigation, despite villagers reportedly informing officials of the culprits’ identity and photographing them in the act.
Nobody has yet been held to account or been required to recompense taxpayers who footed the bill for repairs.
The River Lambourn is one of England’s finest chalk streams, designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation and is recognised as an internationally-important home for fish and plants.
As such, it is supposed to enjoy the highest level of environmental protection.