Mon, 04 May 2020
VILLAGERS are preparing to go to war again to prevent semi-treated sewage from a housing development entering the River Lambourn.
A national outcry greeted similar plans at a development at Teekay Farm in Weston, with experts warning of an “environmental catastrophe”.
In 2015, developers had sought to bypass sewage mains and to use a cheaper option of discharging semi-treated effluent directly into the river.
The globally-rare chalk stream is supposedly doubly protected, both as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and as a Special Area of Conservation.
Those initial proposals “beggared belief” said the national Angling Trust.
National advisory body Natural England also warned of the scheme’s potential to destroy the stream’s diverse and delicately-balanced eco system.
But although people power prevailed on that occasion and developers had to use the more costly option, a new battle is afoot.
For despite similar concerns being expressed, planners have granted permission to Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, James Puxley, for the conversion of four agricultural buildings to residential use at nearby Elton Farm, using drainage fields – a measure critics say will not work properly.
Welford and Wickham Parish Council had warned: [We] would not wish to see any effluent from any sewage system discharged into the River Lambourn and, given the issues with the neighbouring development at Tee Kay Farm, we insist that a sewage solution is agreed in full before any commencement of work.”
In granting permission, West Berkshire Council’s western area planning committee stipulated: “All sewage package treatment plans and drainage fields should be a minimum of 20m away from the River Lambourn, with drainage fields maintaining a buffer of adequate height above the groundwater.”
Nevertheless, outraged residents negotiated with the developers, who offered to switch to the more costly, mains treatment option – with the proviso that they could cover their costs by building one extra home.
That is now to be discussed by the same committee.
One resident, Kirsteen Roberts, has told planners: “The river is extremely rare and ‘klargester’ treated sewage getting into the river will be very harmful to it.
"We fought a few years ago to get sewage on the other development up to the mains and it is exactly the same argument this time round.
"I speak for myself and the whole of the village when I say that this scheme allows the developer to take all sewage up to the mains where it can be properly treated.
"It is for this reason that we are supportive of it... we are at a loss to know why the Environment Agency, Natural England, the parish council and even [West Berkshire Council] allowed the previous plans to be approved, and are appreciative of the developer considering our concerns and adjusting plans.”
Meanwhile, the application for the extra house can be viewed in full by visiting the planning section of the West Berkshire Council website and using the reference 19/02850/FULMAJ.
To comment, write to the council via email at email@example.com quoting the same reference.