Permit to Pollute River Lambourn Causes Outrage
The Environment Agency has caused outrage amongst local campaigners in West Berkshire by issuing a discharge permit which will allow poor quality effluent from a new housing development to be discharged into the River Lambourn, a precious chalk stream that is famed for its wildlife and fly fishing and protected as a Special Area of Conservation, the highest designation. An alternative option of discharging the sewage from the new development into the main sewer for more treatment to higher standards was rejected due to higher cost.
The Angling Trust is encouraging all anglers throughout the UK to get behind the local campaign and to sign the national 38degrees petition
, not only to protect this particular river, but also because this looks set to be a national issue with all the political parties pledging to build hundreds of thousands of new homes in the next parliament. The Trust believes that all new housing developments should employ the best available technology to treat sewage and minimise water use to avoid untold damage to the nation’s water environment, as set out in the Blueprint for Water, supported by 16 national organisations.
The Trust is writing to Environment Agency to challenge its decision to allow inferior quality 'secondary treated sewage' to be discharged directly into a chalk stream. It is also writing to Natural England asking for its assessment of the impact of the discharge on the river’s Special Area of Conservation status.
A recent assessment of waterbodies by the Environment Agency found that just 17% of waterbodies are in good ecological status and the regulator’s latest draft river basin management plans do not project any significant improvements in the near future. The decision to issue a discharge consent on the River Lambourn runs the risk of causing deterioration of this river, which would be illegal under the EU Water Framework Directive and, if it is indicative of national policy, a steady decline in water quality throughout the country as new homes are built.
The Lambourn is one of a globally-rare group of chalk streams, 85% of which are in England. The Angling Trust has highlighted the plight of these rivers through its Chalkstream Charter, supported by the Salmon and Trout Association, WWF-UK, The Wildlife Trusts and The Rivers Trust along with local fisheries and river groups from Dorset to Yorkshire.