Wealden councillors have called on Southern Water to share more information about the impact of new housing on its sewage network.
Wealden District Council unanimously passed a cross-party motion, initially tabled by Green Party Councillor Rachel Millward, setting out a range of proposals connected to the impact of sewage overflows on the local environment.
Among other things, it will see the Council call on Southern Water to provide further details about its network when it is consulted on planning applications. This, the motion said, should include details of which treatment works will be managing the sewage from new housing.
It also called on Council officers to examine and report on the impact new development may have on sewage discharges when assessing planning applications as well as to build an evidence base which could factor into future local plans.
Introducing the motion, Cllr Millward said:
Our current planning process does not allow proper consideration of cumulative sewage discharge into our precious waterways and so it must be updated. At the moment we ask Southern Water if they are able to supply the network. They are legally obliged to supply the network, so of course they say ‘yes, yes, pipes can be fitted’.
But if the sewage treatment work that would serve that development is already spilling hundreds of hours of raw sewage into the river, adding waste from more homes would clearly only increase the levels of discharge creating more damage and destruction.Cllr Millward
This motion empowers us to fulfil our commitment to serve our communities. With better knowledge and refined process we can work together to make good decisions to protect and restore the beautiful lands we represent.
This isn’t enough to save our rivers, but it is a strong and sensible step in the right direction.Cllr Millward
The motion was originally set to be seconded by Liberal Democrat councillor Neil Cleaver, who has been a long-time critic of Southern Water’s management of sewage. However, he agreed to step aside for Conservative Council Leader Ann Newton, when it became a cross-party motion.
The motion seconded by Cllr Newton included a minor amendment from what was initially proposed, adding reference to a recent meeting between herself, Cllr Cleaver and Independent group leader David White with representatives of Southern Water.
Cllr Newton said:
We do need to take control over this. We owe it actually to the generations going forward. We should be and are a civilised country and it doesn’t seem right that we are just pumping, willy-nillly, raw sewage into our streams and our sea.Cllr Newton
The report to the meeting includes the wording of the motion in full as well as details of local sewage spills in 2021. At number 6 in the Top 10 is Redgate Mill Waste Water Treatment Works in Crowborough.