AGM 2nd March

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This Thursday, 2nd of March is the AGM of the Cranleigh Civic Society at the Band Room on Village Way at 7:30pm and never before have we been so much in need of your help. We have fought the good fight examining every detail of the huge number of houses planned and approved to be built in our village, only to be ignored and criticised by the borough council and other parties who stand to make huge financial gains.

In fact, they’ve openly said that nothing you or I say or do has any effect on the decisions they make about the quality, well-being and safety of existing resident’s lives. It seems we’re unimportant, compared to their desire to dump all the housing here despite the lack of infrastructure, thereby protecting Haslemere, Godalming and in the main Farnham.

Cranleigh only has 5 borough councillors, of which 2 have declared a pecuniary interest in development in Cranleigh, compared to the stronghold of 18 borough councillors for Farnham.

The dump on Cranleigh has only just begun, with this imbalance of power this will never stop.

Please join us now to take a stand against the outrageous abuse of this power and help us to keep up the fight for fair representation on the borough council and for fair recognition of the constraints of our rural roads, sewage treatment, public transport and the undermining of the character of our village.

This will not stop!  Areas of farmland and woods have already been decimated but we must still fight on. We have irrefutable evidence of the extent of Cranleigh’s ageing asbestos cement drinking water pipes and no clear evidence that this is not a risk to our health, despite asking the Drinking Water Inspectorate several times to confirm this they have not done so.  We have set up an online petition to ask our MP Anne Milton to help us find out what these asbestos pipes are doing to us and to our children.

We think we have a right to know, do you?

We can also prove that the sewerage treatment works intends to pump out more and more pollution into our river, even though it is already polluted, and the Environment Agency is most likely going to roll over and play dead, and let them do this, whilst wildlife suffers and our environment suffers too.  We need to continue to push Waverley on this point, even if ultimately it may lead to the law courts.

We’ll bring you right up to date on Thursday with the battles we are fighting and let you know how you can help us.  And, never forget:

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

 Margaret Mead Anthropologist

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Northdowns Sewage Update

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For residents of Northdowns the winter has brought some welcome relief from the pong of sewage emanating from a sewage pipe running behind their houses on the Downs Link.

However, yes you’ve guessed it, this problem has not yet been fixed!

Thames Water had finally managed to locate the manhole cover, as reported in our article dated 17 January 2017 and discovered that tree roots had caused a problem.  They said that they were going to return to reline the sewer.

However, as yet the work has not been completed, despite complaints from residents since 4 August 2016!

As one of our residents observed:

“I first reported the ‘pong’ to Thames water on 4th August, and the engineer that came on the 5th said that they needed to clear the brambles. (Others have repeated this since). So it was a full 5 months before they actually did it.

There had, in the mean time, been dozens of phone calls, many visits, with cameras and high pressure hoses (probably involving, hundreds of man hours) as they investigated the main line of the sewer.

When the task of clearing the brambles was eventually undertaken, they found that it was the branch sewer, that was clearly shown on their maps, that joined at the point were the ‘pong’ was, was the source. (Surprise-surprise).

There have been many unfulfilled promises of action and explanation of the reason for the long time involved.

How can Thames Water be expected to cope with a thousand new houses, when a simple job like this is beyond their capabilities.”

We have been regularly chasing these repairs and yet we still wait and wait for the Northdowns work to commence……

The amount of time and money being wasted on this ONE leaking sewer beggars belief.

The timeline for the work just keeps moving:

Thames Water email 21st Feb 2017:

We attended to the property in Northdowns on 19 February 2017, we cut away bushes and hedges which were preventing our contractors from carrying out the relining of the drain. Now this has been actioned and we can work safely, we are planning in a date for the repair. I’ll update you on this by 2 March 2017.

Thames Water email 14th Feb 2017:

As explained in my previous email dated 27 January 2017, I’d contacted Lanes to confirm the work details for the root cut that needed to take place. They have since responded with the information and having checked it today, I can see the root cut was completed on 9 January 2017.

However, during this work, the team identified a misplaced joint. For this reason, Lanes have raised follow on work to patch line the area of the sewer in question. This job is currently waiting to be scheduled and as it’s not high priority, may take longer than we’d normally expect. I will continue to monitor this and chase, to ensure the work goes ahead as quickly as possible and will provide you with every update I receive.

If you’d like to discuss the above, please call me on 0800 0093902. Our offices are open 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday. If I’m unavailable you can either leave a message, or one of my colleagues will be happy to help you.

I’ve sent an escalation to Lanes today, to request a scheduled date for the lining. I’ll check in again with them in a few weeks time, and will let you know of any news.

Thames Water email 13th Feb 2017:

The work to repair the drains in Northdowns is still being planned in. The CCTV survey we carried out had to be reviewed by our Technical Specialists before the follow on work could be raised, to ensure the team carrying out the repair had the correct instructions. The work has been raised and I’ve escalated this job to confirm a planned date for the work. I’ll update you on this no later than 21 February 2017.

Thames Water email 3rd Feb 2017:

We are still planning in the work to repair the drain in Northdowns which was causing the bad smell. I’ve escalated this again today to get a planned date. I’ll contact you by 14 February 2017 with an update.

Thames Water email 27th Jan 2017:

We attended Northdowns yesterday, 26 January 2017, and marked up where we need to dig down to carry out the repair. We are planning in the date to do this. I’ll contact you by 3 February 2017, with an update.

Thames Water email 13th Jan 2017:

We attended and cut the brambles on 5 January 2017, and uncovered 3 manhole covers. We lifted the covers and camera surveyed the drains, we found there was a mass of roots in the line causing a blockage, stopping wastewater from flowing freely down the drains. This is what was causing the bad smell.

We re-attended on 9 January 2017 and removed all the roots from the line. Once we had done this we camera surveyed the line again and have identified a hole in this section of the drain. We are planning to reline the sewer to repair the defect. We’re in contact with the customer who needs to grant us access and they’re aware of this work.

I’ll contact you with an update by 23 January 2017. If you need to speak to me in the meantime, please telephone me on 0800 0093902. Our offices are open between the hours of 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. If I am unavailable when you call then you can either leave a message for me or one of my colleagues will be pleased to assist.

Thames Water email 27th Jan 2017:

We attended and cut the brambles on 5 January 2017, and uncovered 3 manhole covers. We lifted the covers and camera surveyed the drains, we found there was a mass of roots in the line causing a blockage, stopping wastewater from flowing freely down the drains. This is what was causing the bad smell.

We re-attended on 9 January 2017 and removed all the roots from the line. Once we had done this we camera surveyed the line again and have identified a hole in this section of the drain. We are planning to reline the sewer to repair the defect. We’re in contact with the customer who needs to grant us access and they’re aware of this work.

Thames Water Email 23rd Dec 2016:

There are manhole covers, covered in brambles, we’ve been unable to access. We need to cut the brambles away in order to lift the manhole covers to see whether there is an operational issue in this section of the drains.  I’ve escalated this job to our contractors, Lanes for Drains and asked them to plan this job in as soon as possible, they’ve assured me this will be done after the Christmas period. I’ve been assured this will be planned in the first week of January. As we’re yet to investigate this stretch of drain, I’m unable to confirm what is causing the smell at present.

I’ll let you know once we have a date to cut back the brambles to investigate this drain. If you’d like to speak to me in the meantime, please telephone me on 0800 0093902. Our offices are open between the hours of 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. If I am unavailable when you call then you can either leave a message for me or one of my colleagues will be pleased to assist.

Thames Water email 28 Nov 2016:

We hadn’t completed our investigations as we needed to check the manholes covered in brambles, which I stated in my last email. We attended on 19 November 2016, to cut the brambles back so we could check the drain this manhole gives us access to. The manhole we revealed didn’t have any laterals leading off of it. We need to find a manhole under these brambles, so we can gain access to the drain and do a camera survey to see if there’s a defect or blockage causing this smell. We are currently planning in the next visit and I’ll update you when this is planned in.

Thames Water email 14 Nov 2016:

A bad smell was reported on 4 August 2016, we found the smell was coming from a bush area on the old railway line. We attended on 5 August 2016, and our subcontractors Lanes were unable to find any blockages in the drains. We couldn’t lift one manhole cover to check as it was overgrown with brambles. 

A Network Engineer attended on 16 August 2016, when he arrived there was no smell present. A resident explained there was a smell in the area at times. Another resident reported the smell and we attended on 27 August 2016, there was no smell present at this time either, however they should’ve been made aware we had an outstanding line clean on the system.

We attended on 23 August 2016, to carry out a camera survey. We identified there was fat and grease in the line, we removed what we could on 31 August 2016, but had to raise further work so we could get bigger equipment to remove the remaining blockage. We attended on 4 October 2016, to remove the remaining fat and grease from the line but were unable to complete the work as the equipment wasn’t working. 

We re-attended on 11 October 2016, to carry out a camera survey to confirm that all our assets were clear. We surveyed from manhole 0202 to 0205, from manhole 9301 downstream to 9403, from manhole 9403 downstream to 9402 and found no defects. We jetted the line from manhole 9402 upstream to 0202 to clear fat and scale from the line.

A Network Engineer has met with a resident today and confirmed where the manhole is under the bramble, he’ll be raising further work for us to cut back the brambles so we can lift the manhole cover and check for defects. I’m sorry this hadn’t been raised from the initial visit, when we identified there was a manhole that we couldn’t check. I’m going to send you an update to let you know when we’ll return once the job has been raised and planned in.

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Flood Insurance for new homes?

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The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that new houses should not be built:

  • on flood plains
  • on other high risk flood areas
  • in areas where, if houses are built, it would increase the risk of flooding neighbouring property

Despite this requirement, many homes are being built (or we expect to be built) in such areas – for example:

  • Crest Nicholson, betweenHorsham Road and the Downs Link
  • Berkeley Homes, south of the High Street
  • Little Meadow, east ofAlfold Road
  • Thakeham Homes, next to Elmbridge Road – on land that was seriously flooded in January 2015including the pumping station!
  • A2 Dominion, Knowle Park – new application expected soon for new houses on the lowest area in Cranleigh!


Cranleigh Society will continue to object to Waverley Borough Council to granting permission to build in these high risk flood areas, and to stop relying on so-called Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) as a guarantee against flooding, which are not always reliable!

FloodRe is a joint insurance industry and Government initiative to enable the owners of homes which have flooded to not only obtain flood insurance but at an affordable price. The problem is that FloodRe can only “come to the rescue” when a house was built before 1st January 2009! This is because, since that date, no houses should have been built in those three areas specified in the NPPF.

People who bought a house built after 1st January 2009 which has subsequently flooded are on their own when trying to renew their insurance.  Their house could be uninsurable or, at best, they may have to pay a very expensive premium for cover with a high flood excess.

Until recently, the FloodRe literature did not directly mention that all important date of 1st January 2009 – it merely referred to “qualifying properties” with the reader having to visit their website to see if the house qualified!  We found this to be simply unbelievable!

Cranleigh Society tackled FloodRe on this issue and, finally, they did agree to include the cut-off date in all new literature – with no explanation or apology for excluding it in the first place.  There are thousands of these leaflets in circulation, and with no print date to help distinguish the correct and incorrect versions, this would of course be misleading for house buyers.


We fear that a lot of new Cranleigh residents are in for a rough time after their first experience of several days of incessant heavy rain.

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River Search

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One of the great concerns of Cranleigh Civic Society is the ongoing damage caused to Cranleigh Waters by the outflow from the sewage works on the Elmbridge Road. Although the effluent has been treated, Thames Water has a licence to pour the equivalent volume of two Olympic sized swimming pools worth of waste into this tiny stream. This simply cannot be good for anything living there, be it a plant or a fish. We paid a laboratory to test what was going into the stream and they reported that alongside the ‘solids’ that are allowed to go in, they found excessive levels of phosphates. Thames Water confirmed that this is the case but explained that they have no technology to resolve the problem. We find it difficult to accept that they know that they’re causing harm yet have no intention of stopping. As thousands more homes are built in the area this problem will become worse still.

Because we wanted to understand the consequences of this vast volume of effluent entering this delicate waterway, members of our team underwent specialist training from Surrey Wildlife Trust to become accredited river wardens. With this knowledge we undertook the first of our quarterly surveys to lay down a baseline for future surveys to be compared with.

River Search training with Surrey Wildlife Trust
River Search training with Surrey Wildlife Trust

We were trained to look at the vegetation in the water, at the margins and on the banks. Each area offers specific information that describes the health, or otherwise, of the water body. Next, we looked at how the water flowed to give various habitats to suit a variety of creatures and plants, plus many other revealing factors. Little by little a highly detailed map was created from a distance upstream of the sewage works and around the outflow itself.  Despite our polite requests, we were unable to gain permission from landowners to continue our survey downstream.

We’re sad to report that the stream is in very poor condition, made worse by long sections of inappropriate dredging that has stripped the stream bed of any life. This has also slowed the flow damagingly, making any chance of recovery take much longer than desirable.

We also invested in a calibrated water flow meter and have been taking readings to try to understand the stream’s habits. Many of us have seen the flow slow to a trickle and even dry up completely at times. This means that the only liquid flowing towards Bramley has been through our toilets first. It comes as no surprise then that Bramley Fishing Club has given up and closed. When your members no longer catch any fish, there’s no point in carrying on and perhaps this tells us all we need to know.


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Beryl Harvey Conservation

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A great day on the Beryl Harvey Field on Sunday 12 February.  Had a really great turnout for a master class in hedgelaying with Tony Fox.

See the transformation below:

Beryl Harvey hedgelaying Feb 2017 (3)

Beryl Harvey hedgelaying Feb 2017 (2)

Beryl Harvey hedgelaying Feb 2017 (1)

Interested in volunteering on the Beryl Harvey Conservation Field find out more, including dates for 2017.

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Is there Asbestos in your drinking water?

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Cranleigh Civic Society was made aware recently by a concerned resident that some of the cold water supply pipes in our area are made from asbestos cement. The very word asbestos strikes fear into many people’s hearts. We contacted Thames Water who confirmed that indeed 29% of all the water supply pipes in Cranleigh are made from asbestos cement. We’re desperately searching for answers as to whether we need be concerned for the health of the village’s residents, so have written to all the relevant authorities below:

Thames Water

Drinking Water Inspectorate, Defra

Waverley Borough Council

Anne Milton, MP

Health and Safety Executive

Public Health England


Sue Penniston at DWI stated she believed there was no risk to public health, although she confirmed that they are still basing their advice on ingestion risk from old AC drinking water supply pipes from out of date World Health Organisation (WHO) reports dated 2003 and 2006. These reports concentrated on pulmonary risk, and barely mentioned non-pulmonary risk. Interestingly a later WHO report in 2014 has had the clause removed that had previously stated “no consistent evidence that ingested asbestos is hazardous to health”.

HSE responded that this doesn’t fall within their remit and removal of redundant buried asbestos cement pipes is not something they are obliged to do, and suggested we raise the matter with the local Environmental Health Department as they may be able to reassure the society about the health risks.  They believe asbestos cement is a relatively low risk asbestos product and that there is no additional risk created by leaving it buried in the ground when it is no longer required for carrying water. Cranleigh Civic Society believes that there could be a risk to the workmen digging in the same area, unaware of its presence.

The Environmental Health Department at Waverley Borough Council has responded to say they are satisfied with the advice DWI have given them on this subject.

We continue to enquire about this very troubling issue and will update the website when we have more information.

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