Cranleigh’s rivers – are they healthy?

Cranleigh’s rivers – are they healthy?

Testing of Cranleigh’s rivers has always taken place occasionally and now  Surrey Wildlife Trust is helping to get more testing done and some improvements made.

Chemical levels are measured by groups of volunteers as are the numbers of river fly larvae, which indicate the health levels.

It is a fact that all sewage works clean the water as best they can before letting it go into the rivers. Here are two more facts:

  1. The levels of chemicals that remain, although allowed by government, are not good for wild life and cause the depletion of fish and their natural foods.
  2. In a flood situation, foul untreated sewage does come up in people’s homes which is why all the possessions have to be destroyed in the worst cases.

River dipping is a much needed and scientific past-time that some of us have undertaken on everyone’s behalf . We are hunting for river-flies as they are known, the tiny lavae of various species such as cadis fly, which are collected, counted and returned to the rivers. Afterwards the data collected is viewed by experts.

At a recent dip we found just one lava along with shrimps, and so the water is probably not to their liking, too many chemicals from somewhere.

We were dipping near to the back of Cranleigh Golf and Country club.

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Farnham’s recycling centre is under threat

Farnham’s recycling centre is under threat

We’re constantly told that it’s good to recycle our waste where we can, however the of closing of local facilities that enable us to do this means that many do not. Hence, surrounding areas begin to see an increase in fly-tipping.

The latest news from our neighbours in Farnham is that their recycling centre is now under threat.

The below press article is taken from The Herald online, which also includes details of how you can oppose the closure:

THE Herald has launched a Don’t Dump the Dump campaign today – backing widespread calls of residents and councillors to save Farnham’s threatened community recycling centre.

Surrey County Council is currently consulting on further cuts to the county’s tips – with two of the three proposed cost-cutting options involving the permanent closure of six “smaller, less effective” community recycling centres across the county, including Bourne Mill in Farnham.

More than 1,500 people have since signed a petition objecting to the closure of Farnham’s tip (details below), while councillors also expressed disgust at Surrey’s proposals at a meeting of Waverley’s watchdog overview and scrutiny committee on Monday.

Waverley’s head of environmental services Richard Homewood confirmed on Monday the council witnessed an upsurge in fly-tipping incidents after Surrey reduced the opening hours and ended the free daily allowance of chargeable non-household waste at Farnham’s tip last autumn.

And chief among the concerns of residents and elected representatives is further cuts could add to the spike in illegal fly-tipping.

“The potential impact of closing two sites in Waverley – Farnham and Cranleigh – is far greater than changes in opening hours,” Mr Homewood told councillors.

“People have to drive another 10 miles – and people in Farnham won’t want to drive to Waverley’s only remaining CRC in Witley. It will mean our reject rates will go through the roof and we could see a lot more fly-tipping. These proposals could have a very significant impact.”

Farnham Residents opposition councillor Jerry Hyman agreed the closure was a “big issue for Farnham and Cranleigh”, commenting Farnham residents could choose to use recycling sites across the Hampshire border, impacting on neighbouring authorities.

“We must encourage people to respond to consultation in their thousands,” he said.

Tory councillor for Hindhead Peter Isherwood queried the impact on air quality if residents are forced to drive a distance to their nearest CRC, adding: “Bordon is about to introduce a £5 charge if you don’t live in Bordon. The idea of closing the Farnham site is absolutely mad.”

But Wyatt Ramsdale, Tory borough councillor for Rowledge and county member for Farnham North, said: “Surrey County Council hasto find money from somewhere.This is a consultation. I’ve objected to the Farnham closure but we need to come up with solutions.”

He suggested using any capital generated by the sale of the Bourne Mill CRC “to find a better site” elsewhere, as well as switching from black bin bags to clear plastic ones “to make it easier to spot builders’ waste”.

Responding, Mr Homewood said he understood the financial pressures on the county council, “but savings for Surrey will increase costs for Waverley. It will save Surrey operating costs but there will be more clearing-up costs.”

Encouraging residents to respond to Surrey’s consulation, Waverley’s portfolio holder for the environment Andrew Bolton said: “We must encourage the largest possible response from councillors and residents. Surrey listens to numbers.”

According to the latest government figures, 615 fly-tipping incidents were reported to Waverley Borough Council in 2017/18 – costing taxpayers £30,000 in removal costs, a 43 per cent increase on the costs Waverley suffered in 2015/16.

In the past 12 months, Waverley has issued 36 fixed-penalty notices to people who fly-tipped.

The Herald has asked Surrey County Council how much it cost the council to operate Farnham’s CRC in 2017/18, and how much (if any) revenue the tip generated – but is yet to receive a response.

Waverley leader Julia Potts was another of those to voice “real concerns” that fly-tipping could increase as a result of cutbacks at Farnham’s recycling centre in 2017.

Responding to the latest threat to the service this week, Miss Potts said: “We have consistently raised our concerns with Surrey at officer, portfolio holder and leadership levels that by closing all but one of the community recycling centres in Waverley there will be a negative impact on residents and the environment, ie additional pollution and vehicles on the rural roads. We are hearing many concerns from our residents and will be responding in detail to the consultation.”

As well as welcoming responses to its consultation online at surreysays.co.uk, Surrey is hosting a number of drop-in sessions for residents to quiz officers in person.

No drop-in has yet been scheduled for Farnham, however, with the nearest session set to take place in the Wilfrid Noyce Community Centre, Godalming, from 10am to noon on December 12.

Surrey’s consultation runs until 11.59pm on January 4.

As well as completing Surrey’s survey online at surreysays.co.uk, Herald readers are encouraged to sign Farnham resident Yolande Hesse’s petition at tinyurl.com/ya45gj32 and express their concerns in writing to their county councillor.

Cranleigh Flood Forum Update – 18 March 2018

Cranleigh Flood Forum Update – 18 March 2018

CRANLEIGH FLOOD FORUM NEWS UPDATE, 18 MARCH 2018

Many of you attended the third Cranleigh Flood Forum on 9 March, hosted by Anne Milton MP, when discussions continued on sewer and surface water pipe misconnections, concerns about the sewage treatment works and Cranleigh Waters, questionable planning decisions by the Joint Planning Committee (JPC) of Waverley Borough Council and other matters.

However the asbestos cement (AC) drinking water pipes and the very controversial approval of the Thakeham homes site in Elmbridge Road dominated the meeting.

We, Cranleigh Civic Society, reported that, just the previous day, we had a high level meeting with a leading Insurer to discuss the insurance implications of both these very real concerns.

This Insurer confirmed what we had heard from a leading Insurer of County, Borough and Town/Parish Councils – this is that, except for a few specialist schemes, all UK Public and Products Liability policies have a total asbestos exclusion. This follows the inhaled asbestos disaster, where claims are still being made, and which is reported to have cost Insurers worldwide $100 billion – and which nearly brought Lloyd’s of London to it’s knees in the 1990s.

So, at the meeting, the we urged Waverley and Thames Water to check their own policies as, if they have no asbestos cover, and asbestos fibres in eroding and bursting drinking water pipes (which make up 29.6% of Cranleigh’s pipes) do lead to ingested asbestos fibre health problems, they could well have to finance both the claims and legal costs out of their own fund – for decades.

Of course, Cranleigh is not alone – this is a matter of concern and receiving attention throughout the World including Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe so we continue to monitor activity worldwide.

Whilst we are pleased Thames Water are starting to replace Cranleigh’s AC pipes, our aim is to seek a cessation of all connections of new housing to the drinking water system until all the AC pipes have been replaced with new, safe plastic pipes. Failure to do so would mean that, as new homes are connected to the existing system, it would result in the flow having to be increased which would lead to faster erosion and more frequent bursts.

We also discussed with the Insurer the decision by Waverley to grant permission for the building of 54 houses on a flood plain – an area which regularly floods seriously with the last occasion being as recently as December 2013.

The JPC ignored the detailed evidence submitted by us and, instead, relied on the report provided by consultants engaged and paid by the applicant, Thakeham Homes. Their representative was even allowed to sit at the planners table – very unorthodox.

Prior to the meeting on 5 October 2017, a member of the JPC submitted his flood risk evidence to the Chair of the JPC but it was ignored. That same member tried to have his evidence considered at the meeting but he was shouted down by the Chair and told to shut up.

The Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) is Surrey County Council and the Flood Risk Management Strategy and Partnerships Team Leader (who attended the Flood Forum) confirmed to a Councillor, in an email dated 21 February 2018, that when considering building on this type of site, the planning “process is in part reliant on robust and accurate feedback from the community” but the JPC chose to ignore this guidance and the detailed evidence, including photos, submitted by Cranleigh Civic Society.

So there is the terrible prospect of families buying new homes built on a flood plain and which are highly likely to flood, with all the dire consequences, because of a seriously flawed planning decision.

When, at the meeting last week, we explained this situation to the Insurance Company it was made very clear that obtaining flood insurance on this site would be very difficult if the Insurer agrees that the evidence presented to them is sound. Top UK Insurers do not rely on the flood maps available to all on websites – they have invested in their own exceptionally detailed flood mapping, so detailed that they can have separate risk classifications for individual houses. They pay particular attention to new housing developments including local knowledge, nearby postcodes, topography and using the very latest technology.

Perhaps the unavailability of flood insurance from reputable Insurers may stop innocent families making the worst financial decision of their lives?

Anne Milton was of the view that a meeting should be arranged with Thakeham Homes, attended by all the relevant organisations, to explain the very real issues with developing this site, and undertook to put this in motion.

Needless to say we welcome this initiative by our MP but will Cranleigh Civic Society be invited? We sincerely hope so!

 

Anne Milton opens Flood Gates

Anne Milton opens Flood Gates

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.

Blue Asbestos

Blue Asbestos

As you will be aware we have had major concerns about our ageing and deteriorating asbestos cement drinking water pipes for some time now. Due to the age of previous significant development in Cranleigh in the 60’s, we suspected that they may contain crocidolite (blue asbestos), in addition to chrysotile (white asbestos). Although Thames Water assured us that the pipes were constructed from white asbestos, our own research did not reflect this, and we have been pushing for testing to be carried out.

Over the past two weeks we were successful in getting Thames Water to send a section of drinking water pipe, being replaced in the Hitherwood area, for independent testing to confirm the presence of blue asbestos (crocidolite). This has now been confirmed.

The presence of crocidolite (blue asbestos) is not the result we were hoping for, but it is in line with the guidance given on the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) website under the Asbestos section.  HSE state that asbestos cement pipes made prior to 1969 are likely to contain crocidolite.

A further section of pipe from the Summerlands area has been tested and this has been shown to contain only white asbestos. We have asked also requested details from Thames Water of the percentage of blue to white asbestos, and to assess how much deterioration has taken place in the pipes. Furthermore, we have requested that a section of pipe be tested from the Park Mead area, although we have been told that this will not be carried out until there is a burst pipe there. We will be challenging Thames water on this.

Blue and white asbestos have very different risks associated with them, with the crocidolite being considered more hazardous. We should stress that the majority of evidenced high risks are associated with inhaling asbestos fibres, however, there does appear to be a growing evidence base worldwide that suggests that there is also a risk associated with ingested fibres.

Recently Australia and New Zealand have announced replacement programmes for their asbestos cement pipes, and in the USA they already test drinking water for asbestos fibres, and have set maximum guidelines, testing is NOT carried out in the UK.

We have been asking the authorities, including the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), since September 2016 to assess the risk to Cranleigh residents from a high percentage of ageing and deteriorating asbestos cement drinking water pipes without success. Asbestos cement pipes have a 50-70 year design life and some of these in Cranleigh are approaching 70 years old. The issue also affects residents in Dunsfold, Ewhurst and Alfold, we have not looked into any of the other surrounding areas. In a recent planning application in Waverley for development in Alfold, once again the Society advised Waverley of the existence of blue asbestos in the drinking water network, once again we were ignored.

We have questioned the position of the DWI.  Whilst their blanket statement broadly states that there is no consistent evidence to suggest that asbestos is dangerous when ingested, we have studied their database of evidence and that of other qualified evidence available and we are of the opinion that the DWI, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), have based their studies in the main on chrysotile (white asbestos).  Furthermore, many of the reports back in the 1970s and 1980s were sponsored by the asbestos industry, and in particular by the Chrysotile Institute, and they should be treated with some caution, as well as being based mainly on the effects of chrysotile.

In January 2017, in discussion with HSE, Cranleigh Civic Society circulated our own Risk Assessment under the Health and Safety Act looking at data from contemporary research carried out over the last few years, some of it by highly respected organisations such as the American Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health (a leading publication respected around the world).  Our increasing concerns surrounding crocidolite remain, because of its needle-like structure, it has the potential to penetrate membranes in the body more easily than the more curly fibres of white asbestos.

Our research is continuing, and we have received this from a contact in New Zealand.  It was put out by Radio New Zealand and is now on their website:

‘A $2.2 billion price tag has been put on the cost of replacing the country’s asbestos water supply pipelines.

 Drinking water delivered through functioning asbestos pipes isn’t risky, but airborne particles from broken pipes can be dangerous.

 Asbestos cement pipes were installed for local water supply networks from the 1950s to the 1970s, and manufacturers stopped producing them in the mid 1980’s. The pipes’ life expectancy is about 50 years so many will be due for replacement.

 Functioning pipes being used for water do not pose a threat to health. The World Health Organisation has said swallowing asbestos present in water does not present the same cancer risk as inhaling dry particles. However, asbestos pipes that are cut or broken when dry can pose a health risk if particles are released into the air.

 

The Water Services Association of Australia has estimated it could cost $AU8b ($NZ9b) to safely remove Australia’s roughly 40,000km of worn-out asbestos piping.

Water New Zealand estimated the total length of this country’s water supply pipelines at 36,436km, with the network valued at $8.7b. It estimated 9000km of those pipes were made of asbestos cement and that they would need to be replaced in the next 20 to 30 years.

With many of the pipes nearing the end of their useful life, Water New Zealand chief executive John Pfahlert said local councils would have to do careful planning to make the replacement affordable to ratepayers. There were a number of available options cheaper than digging them out, such as relining existing pipes or leaving decommissioned pipes in the ground and placing new pipes around them, he said. Wellington Water spokesperson Alex van Paassen said replacing asbestos cement pipes, as opposed to those made of other materials, did require safety precautions. However, he said, those precautions would not add a significant amount to the overall cost of replacement. Mr van Paassen said pipes in Wellington were prioritised for renewal based on how critical the need for repairs was, or how many households were served, and not on whether they were made of asbestos.

 “Wellington Water had a regular pipe renewal schedule for all types of pipes”, he said.’

We have continued to keep our MP Anne Milton informed of our research and she has now arranged a meeting on 24th July in Cranleigh to investigate this further. Thames Water, the DWI and other relevant parties have confirmed their attendance.  This is also following the petition sent to Anne Milton following our public meeting on 25th May. We are grateful to her for listening to our concerns and seizing this opportunity to seek answers.

Cranleigh Civic Society, in consultation with the Government’s Health and Safety Executive, prepared a full Risk Assessment on the network of asbestos cement pipes in Cranleigh and sent this to Waverley Borough Council on the 29th January.  Waverley ignored it.

We are aware that this subject will cause a high degree of concern in the village and we will of course keep you informed of any developments.

Last Chance to Sign our Petition – deadline 30 April 2017

Last Chance to Sign our Petition – deadline 30 April 2017

We have previously highlighted our concerns about the asbestos cement pipes that supply drinking water to 29.6% of the homes in Cranleigh.

Read our previous article in full here.

We have recently found that over 30% of the drinking water pipes in Ewhurst are also asbestos cement. This is compared to about 4% in Godalming and Haslemere.

We are collecting signatures on a petition as we are so concerned that this issue is not being taken seriously, and ask for Ewhurst residents to sign as well.

The petition calls on Anne Milton to ask for an independent assessment of the risk to the health of local people from the asbestos cement pipes in almost 30% of the drinking water pipes in Cranleigh and surrounding villages.  Many of our members signed a paper version of the petition at the recent AGM and these were added to the on-line petition.

At the time of writing, the petition has 346 signatures, which is a great start – please add your details before 30th April.

Click here to sign the petition.