Speaking during the Motion’s debate at Full Council Meeting, Councillor John Henry Bowden said: “We are experiencing an inflow of development applications that do not fit with our Local Plan which as you well know expired in July. While, as a result, we have no 5-year Housing Land Supply, we shall normally be required by Planning Law to permit such developments even where we have no confidence that they will have the necessary foul drainage infrastructure. However, we are advised by our Planning Officers that that is not a Planning Reason to reject Applications for development, as Southern Water is obliged to provide this service and therefore cannot say no.”
Speaking on behalf of the parishes in Loxwood ward, where this has become a huge issue, Councillor Gareth Evans (Loxwood ward, Liberal Democrats) also voiced his views: “It is absolutely astonishing that a lack of waste water capacity is not a reason to reject a planning application so we must act as a council to ensure that whilst some future development is inevitable that Southern Water are obliged to ensure the right infrastructure is in place before any development can take place”.
Councillor Bowden added: “On top of that the Housing Ministry is requiring us to build another 5,700 houses or so, over and above those already permitted and planned. Where will their sewage be treated? We can have little confidence that any development we plan will have the necessary infrastructure, when we know there is insufficient now”.
The Motion received cross-party support and was seconded by Cllr. Potter (Conservatives) before being passed by 33 votes of 35 present.
As a result of this Motion, the Council will be officially asking Southern Water Regulator to intervene in 3 ways to deal with issues affecting Housing and the Environment:
With regards to Housing and Planning, it will ask Southern Water to admit plainly, when that is the case, that they cannot connect proposed new developments to the foul sewer network, so that this can be used as evidence to reject a development where there is not infrastructure.
The Councill will also call on Southern Water to co-operate in a meaningful way with the Local Plan Review by bringing forward proper plans to expand the wastewater treatment and sewer networks to be able to cope with the demands being placed on CDC by HM Government.
The Motion also addresses the Climate Change Emergency. Five of the district's 10 Waste Water Treatment Works are right at sea level. They will soon be at risk of inundation from Climate Change and consequent sea level rise. The Council will ask OFWAT to get Southern Water to face this issue and propose long term plans to re-locate these WWTW, or to come up with another solution.
Talking about issues with discharges Councillor Bowden concluded: “It is common knowledge that Apuldram WWTW had to let minimally-treated effluent into Chichester Harbour on over 100 days in the recent year, and Souther Waters’s Beachbuoy system, which is meant to let us know about these discharges, is so overloaded with information it has broken down. How long will it be before these repeated failures become a public health hazard?"