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Sewage water leaks onto field next to rare chalk river for third time

PUBLISHED: 06:00 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 08:46 08 October 2020

Robert Perowne on his farm at Great Snoring where he says there have been three sewage leaks in the last two years. Photo: Archant

Robert Perowne on his farm at Great Snoring where he says there have been three sewage leaks in the last two years. Photo: Archant

Archant

A farmer has hit out at Anglian Water after sewage leaked onto his field next to a chalk river for the third time in two years.

The River Stiffkey on Mr Perowne's land, is a rare chalk river. Photo: ArchantThe River Stiffkey on Mr Perowne's land, is a rare chalk river. Photo: Archant

Robert Perowne, 64, took photos of dirty water bursting through a mains sewer pipe underneath his land at Great Snoring, near Fakenham, last Thursday.

The field runs down to the River Stiffkey - a rare chalk stream habitat.

Anglian Water said there had been no damage to the river. But Mr Perowne, who has been farming for more than 40 years, said it was the third time the pipe had burst, leading to sewage flowing onto his land.

He said on the previous two times, in 2018 and 2019, he had seen condoms, human faeces and dirty tissues all flowing down a ditch on his field and into the river.

October 2020 sewage leak, Great Snoring, on land belonging to farmer Robert Perowne. Photo: Robert PerowneOctober 2020 sewage leak, Great Snoring, on land belonging to farmer Robert Perowne. Photo: Robert Perowne

On those occasions he used straw bales to dam the ditch and protect the river.

Mr Perowne claimed the problem was the pipes, which he remembers being laid when he was child, not being large enough to take the amount of waste going into it.

“It is under a lot of pressure,” he said. “It has had its day and cannot cope.

“I told them (Anglian Water) this two years ago.”

He said Anglian Water visited last Thursday evening and stopped the pumping station at Great Snoring the following day.

But the sewage water is still visible on his field where his cattle graze and he is worried about E. coli getting into this herd.

See also: How often is sewage discharged into our rivers and sea?

Robert Perowne on his farm at Great Snoring by the River Stiffkey. Photo: ArchantRobert Perowne on his farm at Great Snoring by the River Stiffkey. Photo: Archant

An Anglian Water spokesman said: “Following successful repairs made to a damaged sewer pipe in Great Snoring, our teams have been monitoring the river closely and would like to reassure local residents that there has been no impact to the watercourse.”

The company said previously that it was spending £811m, including on improving river water quality.

Chalk rivers are one of the world’s rarest natural habitats and Norfolk is one of the few places they are found.

The Environment Agency and Norfolk Rivers Trust launched a project in 2014 to protect and restore the Stiffkey.

The river is rated as “moderate” for water pollution, but the Binham tributary, which runs into it, was one of two Norfolk waterways rated as “bad”.

•To report water pollution call Anglian Water on 03457 145 145


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