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.


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:
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:
or write to: 18 Brookside, Cranleigh GU6 8DA



Thank you for speaking up for Cranleigh.