Action needs to be taken

The Summersdale Residents’ Association has, among others, long been campaigning for some action to be taken over the despicable state of our local waste water treatment works. The state of the plants at both Apuldram and Lavant is laughable and, despite both of them being possible ecological disasters waiting to happen, nothing serious appears to be happening to improve them.

A planning application for 24 new houses at Hunters Rest, a site adjacent to Summersdale Garage on Lavant Road, was recently approved by the Chichester District Council. As the Apuldram WwTW is already at its capacity the sewage from this development will be pumped to the Lavant WwTW.

The SRA, among many others, objected to this development on several grounds but one of the main issues was sewage disposal. Our concerns are that the Lavant WwTW does not have the capacity to cope with more waste water. I am sure that everyone in the Lavant Valley, together with the residents of Plainwood Close, can remember the recent wet winter when Southern Water was forced to pump out the sewer network in the valley 24/7 for nearly three months. The tankers were then emptied into a sewer in Plainwood close which feeds into the Apuldram WwTW. This resulted in Apuldram having to pump untreated, or at best partially-treated, sewage into the Fishbourne Creek on approx. 90 occasions during that winter.

Fast forward to May 9 when the Hunters Rest application was considered. This followed a very dry winter and was before the present spell of wet weather started. It appears that many people in positions of responsibility have very short memories.

Sadly both Southern Water and the Environment Agency conveniently appeared to have forgotten those previous problems and neither of these agencies raised any objections to the plans to pump yet more sewage to Lavant.

Amazingly, the Environment Agency did admit in their letter to the CDC, dated February 6, that they were aware of possible problems in the Lavant Valley and did have concerns over the operation of discharge into the River Lavant. However, and I quote, they went on to say ‘in the interim we are taking a pragmatic approach with developments wishing to connect to the Lavant WwTW’.

Fast forward again to the past few weeks and I wonder if the residents of Charlton and East Dean are taking a ‘pragmatic approach’ to having their cellars flooded with sewage and in many cases not being able to use their sanitation or washing machines. I somehow doubt it!

Just to rub salt in the wound, Southern Water put a poster on the barriers surrounding their pump in Charlton (which by the way is still pumping diluted sewage into the River Lavant) claiming ‘We’re making improvements to the sewers’! I’m not sure how pumping diluted sewage into a river counts as an improvement to our sewers, but I will leave your readers to make up their own minds on that one!

All I would like to say in closing is, together with officials from Southern Water and the Environment Agency, I trust that both CDC officers and councillors who keep approving these developments will be at the front

of the queue when volunteers

are needed to clear raw sewage from our streets.

Something needs to be done about these problems now. This issue (no pun intended) has been swept under the carpet for too long!

Jeremy Hunt

Chair, Summersdale Residents’ Association