Category Archives: Surrey Wildlife Trust

Cranleigh Flood Forum News (29.3.18)

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Our last Flood Forum update posted here on 18 March was based on an article The Cranleigh Society were asked to provide by the Surrey Advertiser – but it was not published.

The Society was then asked to expand on other real problems being faced by Cranleigh; we obliged by sending the content for a second article and that, also, was not published.

Both articles were 100% factual, so we can only conclude that the Surrey Advertiser did not wish to be controversial.

Pressure can still be put on Waverley…

As mentioned in the website posting on 18 March, AC drinking water pipes and the Thakeham site were the main concerns expressed at the Flood Forum but the bigger picture also needs to be considered. There is a general concern for the number of sites where there are flood issues and/or an over reliance on Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS).

More and more Cranleigh residents are complaining about the ever increasing numbers of grab trucks and other contractor’s vehicles thundering through the High Street. These are causing havoc in the B-roads and narrow lanes, and it is going to get immeasurably worse as the building work intensifies.

These heavy vehicles are causing new potholes to appear daily in the High Street, and cars are being forced up on to paths to avoid wheel and tyre damage.

But Waverley and Surrey County Council do not care.

There are other major problems as well:
  • Waverley has pushed 48% of all the new housing in the Local Plan on to sites in and around Cranleigh
  • In doing so, they have ignored infrastructure issues.

The Society accepts there is nothing that can be done about the first point.  Those planning applications have all received permission, but pressure can still be put on Waverley as regards the infrastructure issues where Cranleigh Civic Society believe Waverley are vulnerable. These are:

1. Flood risk.
2. Asbestos cement pipes.
3. Cranleigh Waters pollution.

Of course, everyone is concerned about roads and bridges too, but these are the responsibility of Surrey County Council, not Waverley.

Naturally prone to flooding…

There is an interesting story emerging about flood risk to which there appears to be no solution, solely because of the actions of Waverley and the inaction of the Environment Agency.

This whole sorry saga began in November 2015 when the owner of the Knowle Park Initiative site dredged a section of Cranleigh Waters, not realising that they needed a permit to do so from the Environment Agency which, incidentally would have been refused.

On site, their contractor told the Society that this was done to “move the flood risk downstream”. The effect of this dredging was to move the flood risk from the KPI site to the area just before the bridge at Elmbridge Road, which at the time was fine as it was just meadowland. The problem is that Thakeham Homes bought the site and, on 5 October 2017, they were granted permission to build 54 houses on it.

KPI knew what would happen by doing this dredging,  as it is on their website! They knew that the Thakeham site is “part of the functional flood plain of Cranleigh Waters  and is naturally prone to flooding”.

They went on to state; “The main thing is to make sure the drainage and water courses are kept clear (a clear reference here to dredging) to allow these areas (the Thakeham site) to take the water quickly”.

The Thakeham site had serious flooding in December 2013, two years before the dredging – there is now the very real possibility of much higher flood levels, a matter that was totally ignored by Waverley when raised by Cranleigh Civic Society when the application was heard. The Society has a photo of the December 2013 flood level being higher than the site SuDS level, and we know from Met Office Data that they are predicting +30% rainfall during winter months up to 2080.  So that is why the Thakeham site is liable to flood.

Reducing, not removing the flood risk…

On 16 March, the Society heard from Surrey Wildlife Trust that the bulk of the funding announced at Anne Milton’s 9th March village meeting is to be spent putting the KPI stretch of Cranleigh Waters back to a two stage river. People may well ask why KPI themselves are not required to bear the cost of the reinstatement to a two stage river – the answer is that the Environment Agency did not act within the time limit of six months from the date of the illegal act, even though Cranleigh Civic Society advised them in January 2016 and the EA visited the site on 29 March 2016. So it appears that public money is now going to be spent correcting the damage done by the KPI dredging!

Was there pressure being put on the Environment Agency to let the KPI planning application go through to help meet Government housing targets?  It wasn’t until after the six months statute of limitations period that this all came to light, and the Environment Agency admitted their failure to act.

The problem is that if the KPI stretch of Cranleigh Waters is reinstated to two stage, it reduces (not removes) the flood risk at the Thakeham site and puts a flood risk back onto the KPI site.

What an awful mess – a mess that was totally avoidable if planning was considered on all the facts, good and bad, and not on just chasing housing numbers.

The Society envisages decades of flooding incidents, insurance problems and law suits.

Please help raise awareness by sharing our news updates where you can.

As always please email us at info@cranleighsociety.org with any relevant information regarding this article.

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Love Your River! Village Hall meeting 26 March 7pm

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Love Your River!

Cranleigh Village Hall Meeting

Monday 26th March 7 till 9 pm

Following on from the recent informative Flood Forum meeting held earlier this month, we can now announce a date for Cranleigh Water’s Love Your River Meeting, which will be held on Monday 26th March at 7pm in Cranleigh Village Hall.

We highly encourage as many of our members and Cranleigh residents to attend if they are able.

Cranleigh Waters has experienced serious flow problems, particularly in the summer months and has also unfortunately become quite polluted with most of the flow downstream emanating from the Cranleigh Sewage Works.

According to Shamley Green Angling Society, the environmental effect of this can already be seen with fish dying out downstream.

Why should you attend?

This has been an ongoing problem for some time, with many issues raised.

JOIN US TO CELEBRATE THE PARTNERSHIP WORK TO IMPROVE CRANLEIGH WATERS.

We urge Cranleigh residents to attend this event to put further pressure on Waverley to make this issue a priority. Discover how you could help improve habitat and water quality. Bring your ideas and stories and get involved!

Help us ensure that Waverley takes action on:

•   Reconfiguring the river bed

•   Providing a wetland area upstream to release water over the summer months

•   Addressing the pollution problems

Help us make improvements to our village and join us on Monday 26 March.

Please RSVP emma.berry@surreywt.org.uk Assistant Conservation Officer at Surrey Wildlife Trust .

If you have further information about Cranleigh Waters that you feel should be raised at this meeting please email us at info@cranleighsociety.org

You can also read more about sewage pollution in the Cranleigh Waters in our articles:

•   Shamley Green, Wonersh and Bramley Angling Society

•   No more sewage in Cranleigh Waters

 

 

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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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Volunteer River Wardens Needed for Cranleigh Waters

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On Monday the Cranleigh Civic Society accompanied members of the Environment Agency (EA) and Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) on a formal river walk along Cranleigh Waters.

Regular readers will know that we have been highlighting the fact that Cranleigh Waters stops flowing, especially during summer and autumn months, for some time, and have been involved in ongoing discussions with the EA and SWT.

Both of these organisations are taking this situation extremely seriously and the river walk was arranged to help to identify areas of low to no flow, obstructions, signs of wildlife, invasive species, as well as to gauge the overall depth and width of the river.

This was an extremely useful exercise and we would like to thank all of those who took part and look forward to sharing their report.


Become a Volunteer River Warden

Going forward we will continue to monitor Cranleigh Waters for pollution, as well as help to improve and protect its biodiversity.

And that’s where you come in.  You can help us by becoming a Volunteer River Warden for Cranleigh Waters.

If you are interested in protecting and improving our local environment and becoming a trained volunteer please let us know as soon as possible.

We have arranged our first RiverSearch volunteer training session with the help of Surrey Wildlife Trust.

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Our FREE training day is on 2 September 2016 at Farnham Town Council Offices from 9:30 am to 4:00pm.  Numbers are limited to 12 people and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact us if you would like to reserve a place and we can send you more information about the format of the day.

We will be encouraging people to car share so let us know if you need a lift.

After attending the training session our volunteers will be assigned a stretch of river (averagely 1km in length) and asked to carry out a mapping survey (with the consent of the landowner) during which all features and habitats along the river are mapped and photographed and any issues reported.

Following this initial mapping survey volunteers carry out regular walk over surveys once every 3 months keeping an eye out for any issues as well as recording the wildlife and habitats they come across.

This is an exciting opportunity to get involved and help to protect the river habitat on our own doorstep for the benefit of local people and our local wildlife.

Further training will be available to our volunteers as our programme progresses.

Get in touch and book your place


If you are unable to attend our training day on 2 Sept but would still like to help protect Cranleigh Waters please do get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

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