Anglian Water to be challenged over sewage in Babergh
By Siobhan Middleton (local democracy reporter)
23rd Nov 2022 | Local News
Anglian Water is to be questioned over release of sewage into Babergh's waterways, including the Stour and Orwell that run either side of the Shotley peninsula..
Babergh councillors voted unanimously in favour of a Green Party proposal to scrutinise Anglian Water over sewage discharge yesterday.
The proposal by Green Party Cllr Robert Lindsay came after last year saw 288 spills into the district's rivers.
Cllr Lindsay said: "Anglian Water recently paid £91 million out to its shareholders.
"It really should be spending on improving its infrastructure and the management of its sewage so that our rivers are not contaminated and are safe once again.
"As a council, we don't have the power to change planning policy or demand that water companies tell us whether they've got capacity in sewage treatment when there's a big development.
"But we can ask and we can spotlight the problem. No one else is monitoring water companies to ensure this investment happens."
The motion included inviting Anglian Water to a meeting to question the company over sewage discharge and asking it to inform the council about plans for sewage before a major development is approved.
During consultation on a major development, the council will now request that Anglian Water states which treatment works will manage the sewage.
Derek Davis Babergh vice chairman and Ganges ward member, who represents Shotley and Erwarton, added: "We have the river Stour in my ward which is well used by swimmers, bathers, paddle boarders and other users, so it is absolutely right that they should know about the sewage discharge.
"People are becoming more aware and should be told when a development is put forward how and where the sewage will be treated as part of the normal Anglian Water consultee process."
The council will also ask whether the company has the information to assess the impact on the number and duration of sewage discharges – and request that it provides this information.
Speaking after the vote, Cllr Lindsay said: "You only have to go to places like Sudbury or Bures of a weekend to see how many people use the River Stour for canoeing, swimming, paddle boarding and so on.
"We need to be able to enjoy our rivers without fear of contamination from sewage."
Councillors highlighted the fact that the council doesn't have the power to make Anglian Water provide more information or protect Babergh's waterways but many agreed with Cllr Clive Arthey's point that "it's better than doing nothing."
Seconding the motion, Leader of the council and Independent Conservative Cllr John Ward said: "This shouldn't be a political or a partisan thing – we must all be really concerned about what appears to be a backwards step with sewage discharges.
"We need to think about whether we can do even a little bit to help rectify this.
"If by passing this motion we can encourage Anglian Water to step up their game, then we should do so."