Upgrade of wastewater treatment works only in Chichester District by 2030
Letter published in the West Sussex Gazette, 27 July 2022
In Sussex the duty to upgrade wastewater treatment works by 2030 will apply only in Chichester District
Councils across Sussex have received a letter, dated 21 July, from the Government’s Chief Planner, Joanna Averley.
The letter, informed by the written statement ‘on improving water quality and tackling nutrient pollution’ issued the previous day by Secretary of State George Eustice MP, advises that:
“In the autumn, the government will table an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. This will place a new statutory duty on water and sewerage companies in England to upgrade wastewater treatment works to the highest technically achievable limits by 2030 in nutrient neutrality areas” …“in a way that tackles the dominant nutrient(s) causing pollution in the catchment of habitats sites”.
And, upgrades will be “brought in” outside of “nutrient neutrality areas on a slightly longer timeframe”. How long that will be is not stated.
Surprisingly in Sussex only Chichester District is deemed to be a ‘nutrient neutrality area’. Consequently, the requirement to upgrade by 2030 will in Sussex, despite the presence of ‘habitats sites’, apply only to Chichester District.
Cause for concern, too, is the caveat – “to the highest technically achievable limits”. Surely, the Government in consultation with Natural England should set and enforce the level of treatment needed, not leave it to the water companies to decide.
Moreover, will these ‘upgrades’ end the discharging of untreated or partially treated sewage into rivers and coastal waters? When will these upgrades be expedited in Sussex outside of Chichester District? Will these upgrades provide the additional foul -water treatment capacity needed in consequence of the huge and unprecedented housing targets imposed across Sussex? Clarification is needed.
Will Sussex’s MPs and councillors ensure that Mr Eustice’s amendment to the Bill sets enforceable treatment targets and ends the discharging of partially and untreated sewage into our rivers and coastal waters?
Meanwhile, housebuilding targets should be reduced and the press-on-regardless-of-environmental-harm approach to development terminated.
Dr R F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex