Motion for Time Limited Debate – Kent water quality
Proposer: Mark Hood
Seconder: Mike Sole
Background information – supplied by the Green & Independent Group
The people of Kent are deeply concerned about water quality and the impact of regular wastewater discharges, including untreated sewage, into our streams, rivers and seas and the impacts on wildlife and on human health.
The UK has the dirtiest rivers in Europe. In Kent, poor water quality is responsible for eutrophication in our rivers and sites of Special Scientific Interest such as Stodmarsh. Southern Water reported around 42,000 hours of sewage spills into the Medway and its tributaries in 2020 alone and Environment Agency reports show large sections of Kent’s rivers as having poor or bad water quality which are preventing development in each of the districts in the catchment of Stodmarsh.
Releasing sewage into our rivers and seas has become a regular occurrence even in ‘normal’ rainfall events, new properties are overwhelming our inadequate existing drainage infrastructure and we are in a situation of cumulative overload on the sewerage and wastewater treatment systems.
Water providers should also be compelled to make it clear whether or not they are able to sustain future development. We should also ensure that surface water from our highways infrastructure is removed from the foul sewer network wherever possible.
Whilst there are long term commitments, there are no plans in place which will address the immediate unacceptable situation either locally by Southern Water or by national government. The National Planning Policy Framework requires a robust approach to both water quality and pollution, and a recent legal opinion from the Environmental Law Foundation confirms the need to consider cumulative impacts. However, planning consultation documents show that it has not been the practice of LPA planners to ask water companies to report on the cumulative impacts of developments or the ability to supply those developments in any detail.
This Council resolves to: