Category Archives: Cranleigh Waters

CRANLEIGH FLOOD FORUM – FRIDAY 10 NOVEMBER 2017

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** PLEASE NOTE START TIME AND VENUE **

 The venue is The Band Room  in Village Way, Cranleigh, and the meeting starts at 10:30 am

This is the second  meeting of Cranleigh Flood Forum chaired by Anne Milton MP.  The issues Cranleigh Civic Society wishes to discuss include:

  • Thakeham Homes, Elmbridge Road Planning Permission
  • Illegal river dredging
  • Water Quality (Cranleigh Waters)
  • Asbestos Cement drinking water pipes
  • Flood Risk in general

Please attend this meeting if you can. It is open to all Cranleigh residents, not just Cranleigh Civic Society members!

Please speak to your friends and neighbours as the more people who attend the more we can demonstrate the serious concerns we have in Cranleigh about the over development of our village and problems that lie ahead.

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Thakeham Homes Elmbridge Road GRANTED

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Last night Waverley Borough Council granted planning permission for 54 houses on the worst site in Cranleigh for new houses on the Elmbridge Road.

The developers Thakeham Homes say they pride themselves on the quality of their homes and yet they are building houses smaller than nationally set space standards between a smelly sewage treatment plant and a river that regularly floods. New residents will need pegs for their noses and water wings.

However, on a serious note the drainage for this site is being put in an area that we know floods regularly so will be completely useless when its needed most, as is the children’s play area, we hope that anyone who lives there keeps a careful eye on their children, as we know how quickly the river can change from a low to high state and how quickly it flows in times of flood.

The Joint Planing Committee accepted (10 to 8) the new “expert” estimated advice that the flood zones on the land had now miraculously moved since the last time it came before committee in JUNE 2017 and they ignored local residents, the Parish Council and expert evidence put forward by our Councillor Liz Townsend that the flooding had been much worse in December 2013 than was being stated and was at the very least 45.194m. They also refused to look at photographic evidence presented by Councillor Jerry Hyman from Farnham, that showed both a water mark on the pumping station on the Elmbridge Road, taken in December 2013, as well as flood detritus, that proved the water had been over a 1 in 1,000 years predicted flood event. We have had at least two floods of this magnitude in 50 years – 1968 and 2013, so more of 1 in 25 years! Far from the flood zones being reduced, they should have been increased and the safety of new residents and people living further downstream should have been paramount.

As a chartered insurance broker I am acutely aware of the fact that these new residents are not guaranteed flood insurance, in fact they could end up with new (and very expensive) homes that are frankly worthless.

Yet another development in Cranleigh bringing our total new houses up to nearly 1,400.  In a race for a housing figure corners are most definitely being cut and it is Cranleigh residents that will be left with all the mounting problems.

We hope that the articles on this website will assist any new residents when they need to make an insurance claim in the future.

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Anne Milton opens Flood Gates

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On Monday the 24th of July, Anne Milton MP organised a meeting at the village hall that she described as a flood forum and it turned out to be much more than that. She brought together Waverley planners, Thames Water, the Environment Agency, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, Public Health England, Surrey County Council, the National Flood Forum, Cranleigh Parish Council and Cranleigh Civic Society to discuss openly several of the major concerns Cranleigh’s residents have raised with her. 65 members of the public came along and several parish and borough councillors also attended.

The plan was to address these concerns and direct them specifically to the authority responsible, so that the answers could be heard by all. We were very happy to hear sewerage problems, flooding and asbestos cement water pipes all discussed openly. It was always understood that the problems would not be resolved then and there but that efforts could be made to address them in the coming weeks and months.

To aid this, small sub committees were formed to work on specific areas and they will report back at the next meeting planned for the autumn. It was just the beginning of what will be a long term effort but a positive step and one that Cranleigh Civic Society welcomes. Members of the Society volunteered to join sub committees and share the information they have collected specific to each area so we will be close to the decision making process.

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Flooding on Thakeham Site – Elmbridge Road

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As you will be aware the decision on the Thakeham Homes application for 54 dwellings off the Elmbridge Road was deferred by the Joint Planning Committee pending more evidence on flooding and odour from the Sewage Treatment Works.

If you have any photos of flooding on this site whatsoever, could you please email your photos to info@cranleighsociety.org or send printed copies of photos to Phill Price, Chair, Cranleigh Civic Society, 18 Brookside, Cranleigh GU6 8DA

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Thank you.

 

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Death of the Grampian Condition

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It won’t have gone unnoticed to residents that both Crest Nicholson on the Horsham Road and Cala Homes on Amlets Lane have started developing their sites.

Both these sites had Grampian style conditions.  This was meant to prevent the start of the development until off-site works were completed on the sewerage network, including the sewage treatment works on Elmbridge Road. However, we were recently advised by planning enforcement at Waverley that the Grampian Condition wording is too woolly to enforce and doesn’t specifically mention the words sewage “TREATMENT”,  so no work to the sewage works are apparently included – another nail in the coffin for Cranleigh.

To say that we felt let down by the lack of rigour exercised in the planners’ wording of the Grampian and the lack of ability by Waverley to enforce it, is an understatement!

There is no consideration being given to existing residents, who after all fund the borough council, in the scramble to achieve a housing number at all costs.  We don’t need to remind you, that you will have to bear the brunt of polluted rivers, congested roads, odour nuisance from the sewage works, an over burdened GP surgery, the list goes on.


As you might remember Cala Homes had applied for their Grampian condition to be removed, however, Waverley Borough Council, in a rare moment of what seemed common sense, refused their request. Surprisingly, this did not stop work on Cala’s show houses.

Amlets 8 Jan 2017

The bungalow on the Horsham Road, which was acquired by Crest Nicholson to provide an access road to the site, was demolished long before their Grampian Condition was even discharged (such as it was), and work was also immediately commenced on the green fields to build 149 houses.  Grampian, what Grampian?

It was also pointed out that Crest’s Grampian was a little more lax than that for Cala Homes, despite all the initial concerns Thames Water had about this site and the need for huge on-site sewage storage tanks. These worries seem to have been a mere flash in the pan!

Not long after the first Crest spade was in the ground, they were plotting to build 121 more houses in the pristine green fields adjacent to this site.

Crest describes Cranleigh on their website:

“Cranleigh is a pretty Surrey village where one can enjoy a relaxed pace of life yet benefit from daily conveniences aplenty on the doorstep, including a selection of shops, cafes and restaurants.”

Crest Nicholson demolish Bungalow Horsham Road

Sounds idyllic, and surprising how keen developers are to emphasise that we are a “village” in their marketing literature.


Despite the unsustainable location of Cranleigh, on a rural road network, with little public transport, a heavy reliance on the use of the private car, limited employment opportunities, water quality issues, a high percentage of asbestos cement drinking water pipes, an inadequate sewage treatment plant, and on green fields to boot,  none of this matters, as long as the houses are built.

The ONLY reason for these dwellings is because we have NO GREEN BELT protection, nothing else, and national planning policy will be twisted at the whim of the planners to suit their ultimate plan for this area, which is CRANLEIGH TOWN.

However, before you start thinking, how bad can that be, it will be bad!  We are the only community in Waverley without green belt protection AND any environmental designation.  Farnham at least has the protection of Thames Basin Special Protection Area.  So going forward, Cranleigh will be the dumping ground for any, and all, unmet housing in Waverley.  However, Waverley Borough Council seem to be the winners, they have a convenient area, in the corner of the borough, which will be a cash cow for council tax, and with only 5 councillors (Farnham has 18) representing this area, and two of those with a declared pecuniary interest in development, this really does seem like a marvellous arrangement.

There is the rather inconvenient truth of Cranleigh Waters, which is polluted and failing in terms of the Water Framework Directive, but that can be smoothed over, by applying pressure to an overworked and under resourced Environment Agency (EA) with the promise of funds for river restoration  and flood plain replacement projects.

There’s the problem of the rural roads and A281, but as Matthew Evans, Ex-Waverley Head Planner, said it really doesn’t matter if people are stuck in traffic.  Obviously air quality issues and quality of life, for residents in this part of the borough,  was not something that disturbed his sleep.

And then there’s the ageing asbestos cement drinking water pipes, which have an extremely inconvenient habit of bursting whenever water pressure increases, still, studies of health risks are inconclusive, so it appears Waverley don’t need to worry about that either.  Despite the fact that we can find no reports that include the age of pipes we have here, or our particularly agressive type of water.

It would be difficult to imagine what would ever be considered as a material constraint by Waverley planners against development in Cranleigh, perhaps the discovery of uranium in the high street?

And to add insult to injury, the EA are now actively looking for replacement flood plain for this area, as let’s face it, they don’t want to create too much flooding downstream for Bramley and Guildford, residents there might start to wonder why the hell all this building was allowed, or should we say encouraged, on the natural flood plain we DID have.

However, we still have something up our sleeve and that’s you!

Joined together, you are the most powerful force.  Stronger than Waverley and stronger than developers.

Working together in big enough numbers, people can, and will, make a difference.  We can fight for fairness, we can fight for our community, and we can fight for our environment.

JOIN US


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead


 

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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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Cranleigh Waters Partnership Meeting

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Members of Cranleigh Civic Society met with representatives of the Environment Agency (EA) and Thames Water on Friday 16 December 2016 at Thames Water’s offices in Shalford.  Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Waverley Borough Council were invited but were unable to attend on the day.  However, Waverley have confirmed that they will be inviting all parties to a meeting in the New Year.

It was a productive meeting, with all parties keen to explore pollution issues in Cranleigh Waters and opportunities to improve the failing status of the river.

All attendees stressed the importance of the next stage of Waverley’s water cycle study and the news that Amec Group Ltd had been appointed to carry this out was welcomed.  This study is required as evidence for housing allocations in the Local Plan.  Although a water cycle scoping report was produced by Capita  (August 2016), it was recognised that the far more detailed stage two of the report  was required to identify constraints regarding  specific water supply and wastewater discharge, together with identifying upgrades required to the network and the accompanying timeline; taking into account costs, funding and available technology.

The EA confirmed that they had found Waverley’s Local Plan “unsound” based on the evidence presented to date.

Thames Water advised us that the trials to reduce phosphate levels in sewage effluent, should be available in Summer 2017.  It is not known yet whether the results of these trials are encouraging, or cost effective.  The situation remains that at present it is “technically infeasible” to reduce phosphate levels in discharged effluent to those required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

Cranleigh Civic Society is continuing its work with the EA and SWT on Cranleigh Waters with our Volunteer River Wardens.  We are currently requesting permission from landowners to access a longer stretch of the river so that we can carry out invertebrate studies and identify areas for possible restoration work, as well as the reason for continued low flow rates.

It was generally recognised that recent dredging work had severely impacted on flow rates and the ability of the river to maintain aquatic life.

Thames Water maintain that current expansion work at Elmbridge sewage treatment plant is to improve current resilience and not to accommodate growth.  They advised us that the plant would need to be expanded to deal with sewage from the significant housing estates granted in and around Cranleigh.  This would undoubtedly have a further impact on water quality.  However, it was not clear whether this upgrade work would involve a full planning application and Thames Water would not commit to carrying out an Odour Impact Assessment.

We stressed the need for this impact study in order to make sure that residents’ quality of life was not further impacted by odour nuisance.  Thames Water confirmed that complaints about odour from the sewage treatment works (SWT) had increased but they maintained that it was not clear that this corresponded to an increase in odour from the plant, or was due to the Cranleigh Society highlighting to residents that they could complain.  We would stress to residents that they should continue to report any odours from the STW in order that Thames Water have more accurate records.


Please continue to report odour nuisance to Thames Water email customerservices@thameswater.co.uk or 24-hour customer service team on 0800 316 9800 and to
Waverley Borough Council Environmental Health on 01483 523393.


Finally we discussed issues surrounding water supply and the recent spate of burst water mains. This will be discussed further at our next meeting.

In addition to the meeting in the New Year with Waverley, Thames Water is also helpfully arranging further meetings with their drainage and water supply departments.

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Dunsfold Park Goes Before Committee

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Dunsfold  Park planning application goes before the Joint Planning Committee at Waverley this Wednesday 14 December at 6:30pm.

dunsfold-aerodrome-illustrative-plans

If you are planning to attend the meeting we would suggest you arrive at least an hour before, as there is bound to be considerable interest in this development.

The application includes 1,800 residential dwellings, in addition to 7,500sqm care accommodation; a local centre to comprise retail, financial and professional, cafes/restaurant/takeaway and/or public house up to a total of 2,150sqm; new business uses including offices, and research and development industry up to a maximum of 3,700sqm; light and general industry up to a maximum of 7,500sqm; storage and distribution up to a maximum of 11,000sqm; a further 9,966sqm of flexible commercial space; non-residential institutions including health centre, relocation of existing Jigsaw School into new premises and provision of new community centre up to a maximum of 9,750sqm and a two-form entry Primary School.

The application also includes a new sewage treatment plant.  We have continued to raise concerns about water quality and the discharge point of liquid sewage effluent (by-product of the treatment process) from the site.

The Environment Agency in a letter to Waverley Borough Council on 6 December 2016 have objected to the application, stating that:

“In accordance with paragraph 109 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the associated National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) we object to the proposed development as submitted for the reasons outlined below and on the basis that it may have a significant adverse impact on water quality.”

Read the full EA letter here

The current proposal now appears to favour discharging into Loxwood Stream (sometimes referred to as the River Lox).  The previous proposal had included the use of the Wey & Arun Canal but this has now been ruled out as unsuitable.  A new report published against the planning application “Risk assessment for treated sewage disposal” Ref: 65550TN1D1 and dated November 2016 states that:

“Indeed, for the purposes of this assessment, Loxwood Stream has been taken forward as the potential receiving watercourse. This is based on the fact that the pro rata calculation to  estimate flow at the point of discharge would seem to be more reliable than that undertaken for Cranleigh Water, where the influence of sewage treatment effluent downstream of the proposed Dunsfold Park outfall makes any pro rata calculation potentially unreliable without benefit of more detailed flow data.”


Cranleigh Civic Society is now a member of the Cranleigh Waters Partnership, along with Thames Water, the Environment Agency and Surrey Wildlife Trust.  Our next meeting takes place on 15 December 2016.

Elmbridge Road Sewage Treatment Works (STW) is currently exceeding its original capacity for a maximum 15,000 residents and Cranleigh Waters, into which sewage effluent is discharged, is already failing in terms of water quality.

Permission has already been GRANTED for nearly 800 new houses in Cranleigh and the following pending applications will also be sending their sewage to be treated in Cranleigh and will discharge sewage effluent into Cranleigh Waters:

WA/2016/2207 Knowle Park Initiative (West Cranleigh Nurseries) – now in name of A2Dominion Developments Limited- Alfold Road, 265 dwellings

WA/2015/1381 Springbok Estate, Alfold 480 dwellings and primary school (at Appeal)

WA/2014/2384 Hewitts Industrial Estate, Cranleigh 120 dwellings (at Appeal)

WA/2016/1921 Thakeham Homes, Elmbridge Road, Cranleigh 58 dwellings

Waverley Borough Council has not raised any concerns about the impact on water quality with regard to these applications totalling over 1,700 dwellings.

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Expansion Work Continues at Sewage Treatment Plant

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Despite ongoing complaints of sewage odour from residents living near to Elmbridge Road Sewage Treatment Works,  work has commenced on two additional 30m diameter open-air filtration beds.

location-new-filter-beds-cranleigh-sewage-treatment-works

Members of Cranleigh Civic Society are extremely disappointed that Surrey County Council has maintained its position that planning permission is not required for the expansion work, despite evidence of ongoing odour nuisance and serious pollution issues in Cranleigh Waters – the river the sewage works discharges into.

For some time residents living near to the sewage treatment works have been emailing us about the effect of sewage odour on their homes.  Residents report being unable to use their gardens because of the overwhelming smell of sewage and of distressing fly infestations. Although we asked Thames Water to carry out an odour impact assessment, nothing appeared to be forthcoming, so we arranged for an odour survey on behalf of residents living  within an 800m radius of the sewage works, in accordance with Thames Water’s “Odour Zone” criteria.  The results were sent to Waverley Borough Council and Surrey County Council.

The reason for the expansion work has not been firmly established, however, Thames Water recently informed us that this 30% expansion is in readiness for the new housing estates being planned for Cranleigh and surrounding villages, as unfortunately most of the untreated sewage is headed this way. However, other residents have reported a very different story from Thames Water, who have advised them that the work is simply to upgrade the system to accommodate current users.  Cranleigh Civic Society is meeting with representatives from Thames Water on 16 December 2016, as part of Cranleigh Waters Partnership and this is one of the queries we will be taking up with them.  The Environment Agency and Surrey Wildlife Trust will also be attending.

Cranleigh Civic Society discovered that the sewage treatment plant expansion work was being carried out without planning permission back in October, this means that the effect on residents of any additional odour originating from these extra filtration beds is not being taken into account.

We believe that Surrey County Council should have undertaken an Environmental Impact Assessment to investigate not only odour but also pollution issues in Cranleigh Waters from additional liquid sewage effluent. On 29-Sep-16 we challenged the council to this effect and their response was to undertake a scoping report, subsequently issued on 11-Oct-16, which concluded that Thames Water did not need to get planning permission as the works came under what is called “Permitted Development”.

On behalf of residents, we have studied relevant Government legislation and we disagree, and have outlined our reasons to Surrey County Council and to Anne Milton MP.  However, Surrey are regrettably sticking to their original decision.

We have also sought the assistance of Waverley Environmental Health and on 7-Nov-16 wrote to them asking for an Abatement Notice to stop works on site until a full Environmental Impact Assessment was done. We also sent them a copy of the Society’s July Odour Survey that residents took part in.

In a telephone call on 23-Nov-16, Environmental Health told us, that after consulting with the Waverley Planning Department, they would not be taking our survey results into account as it was carried out by a pressure group, instead going forward they would be asking affected residents to fill in a diary of days on which they experience odour nuisance. This appears to ignore any previous history of odour problems whilst the sewage works expansion progresses unchecked.

We think that residents’ prior complaints should be taken into account.

If you have been affected by odour nuisance from the sewage works, are worried about the risk of increasing odour arising from the current expansion, and you think that the impact on your home should be considered, please write to, or email, your MP Anne Milton.  Please always include your FULL name and address with any correspondence.

Anne Milton MP email: anne.milton.mp@parliament.uk
or write to: 17A Home Farm, Loseley Park, Guildford, GU3 1HS

Please copy Cranleigh Civic Society in on your email/letter, if possible, prior to our next meeting with Thames Water on 16-Dec-16, where we will be discussing this matter, as well as concerns about ongoing and increasing pollution of Cranleigh Waters.

Cranleigh Civic Society email: info@cranleighsociety.org
or write to: 18 Brookside, Cranleigh GU6 8DA

 


ALWAYS REPORT ANY SEWAGE ODOUR ISSUES TO THAMES WATER customerservices@thameswater.co.uk OTHERWISE THEY CAN ARGUE THAT EVERYTHING IS OK AND EXPANSION WILL CONTINUE ON THE SITE


Thank you for speaking up for Cranleigh.

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Cranleigh Civic Society Meeting with Defra

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Cranleigh Civic Society’s Chair Liz Townsend attended a meeting with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Andrea Leadsom MP, together with Anne Milton MP, and the Environment Agency’s Executive Director of Environment and Business, Harvey Bradshaw on 12 October 2016.

The meeting was kindly facilitated by Anne Milton and provided Cranleigh Civic Society with the opportunity to highlight the apparent breakdown of accountability for delivery of water quality, as outlined in the Water Framework Directive (WFD) legislation, within the planning system and to ask for this to be investigated further.

It was an extremely positive meeting and the points we raised were taken forward for further consideration.

Defra have confirmed that “Any development must not be contrary to the WFD and to paragraph 109 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which states that the planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment.”

Defra have also stated that in our case where a local authority may not be upholding its obligations under the WFD and the NPPF it may be of interest to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, (DCLG)  Sajid Javid MP, and have therefore informed him of our situation.

We have now requested a meeting with DCLG and are currently waiting for a response.


NPPF Paragraph:

109. The planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local
environment by:
● protecting and enhancing valued landscapes, geological conservation interests and soils;
● recognising the wider benefits of ecosystem services;
● minimising impacts on biodiversity and providing net gains in biodiversity where possible, contributing to the Government’s commitment to halt the overall decline in biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures;
● preventing both new and existing development from contributing to or being put at unacceptable risk from, or being adversely affected by unacceptable levels of soil, air, water or noise pollution or land instability; and
● remediating and mitigating despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated and unstable land, where appropriate.


Background to discussion points:

The Cranleigh Civic Society pointed out that whilst planning authorities have a duty to deliver the objectives of the WFD, there appears to be a complete breakdown in accountability when it comes to delivering its objectives within the planning system.

The aims of WFD are to:

  • Prevent deterioration in water body status
  • Reduce water pollution
  • Conserve aquatic ecosystems and habitats
  • Reduce the effects of floods and droughts on water bodies
  • Promote sustainable use of water as a natural resource

However, in our experience, when it comes to planning decisions and water quality, Waverley defer responsibility to the Environment Agency (EA) who in turn defer back to Waverley as final “decision maker”. There is no acceptance of responsibility and no clear line of accountability and, it appears, no redress when a decision is made by a planning authority resulting in increased pollution and a deterioration in water quality.

In Cranleigh’s case, our river (Cranleigh Waters) is failing in terms of WFD (confirmed by Waverley Borough Council), in the main due to pollution from high levels of liquid sewage effluent being pumped into it on a daily basis.

Waverley maintain that they are meeting their responsibilities under the WFD as the discharged effluent meets with the current permit issued by the EA in 2009.  However, Waverley is aware that this permit is outdated, was not issued based on WFD legislation, in fact does not comply with the standards set out in the WFD, and was issued when the flow in Cranleigh Waters was higher.

We pointed out that permits issued by the Environment Agency in 2009, were part of a blanket approval process to standardise levels of discharge into main watercourses. These permits were not based on WFD criteria and were intended to be reviewed and reissued based on up to date legislation.

However, reviews have not taken place, perhaps because it became apparent that many permits, if updated, would result in compliance failure and high levels of fines for water companies.

In order to achieve more stringent levels set by the WFD, water companies have embarked on trials of new technology, results of which are expected in 2017.  It appears that the EA could be holding back on issuing new permits until the results of the trials are known, despite its responsibility to achieve ‘good’ status in each river catchment by 2027.  Currently only about 36% of the UK’s 10,763 water bodies are classified as ‘good’.

This delay in permit renewals means that there is confusion and a loophole in planning with regard to water quality.

In Cranleigh huge housing estates have been and are being approved which will knowingly increase pollution in Cranleigh Waters, and we are convinced that this is being replicated across Waverley and across the country.

Furthermore, we are not convinced that water companies are taking into account in their trials reducing flows in UK rivers, due to lower levels of groundwater, climate change and a general increase in population, which places higher demand on water supply, especially in the South East.

Low water flows means that sewage effluent is not adequately diluted when it is discharged into a river and this impacts on the discharge permit which, we are informed, is based on an assumed level of dilution.

Adding to the multiple problems of lack of flow, pollution and an absence of adequate regulation, Cranleigh Waters, like other rivers in the UK, has been indiscriminately  dredged, particularly in the area at the back of West Cranleigh Nurseries, resulting in widespread and long term damage.

Dredging is being used as a flood defence to widen and deepen rivers.  However, we have been informed by the EA that it is counterproductive and amounts in very little gain in flood protection, often moving the problem downstream to larger settlements, in our case Bramley, Shalford and Guildford.

Lately the drawbacks of dredging are being more widely publicised and the benefits of catchment management highlighted, using natural flood plains, planting trees and creating flood meadows. However, this is too little, too late as far as Cranleigh is concerned, when Waverley has granted planning permission on almost our entire flood plain.

When extensive flooding occurs, of the type we experienced in 2013/14 (when our flood plain was still intact), dredging of the river would have a negligible effect in terms of flood protection, and can increase danger downstream by increasing the velocity of flood water.

These major issues must be addressed before further development is granted planning permission in Cranleigh.

Since the meeting our dialogue with the EA and Thames Water has continued and we have been invited to attend a further meeting with stakeholders to discuss these points.

We will keep you updated with our progress.

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