Council votes for greater scrutiny of sewage entering rivers and sea

Discharge at Sheringham and North Norfolk District Council

The council voted for unanimously for an amended version of the motion. - Credit: Denise Bradley/EDP

A Norfolk council has unanimously voted in favour of requesting regular updates from Anglian Water on how much sewage is entering the district’s rivers and sea. 

The storm drain gushing out what may have been sewage onto Sheringham beach after torrential rain. P

The move comes after the government committed last month to require water companies by law to show a progressive reduction in sewage overspills. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

The move comes after the government committed last month to require water companies by law to show a progressive reduction in sewage overspills.

At a Tuesday North Norfolk District Council meeting, Liberal Democrat cabinet member for the environment Nigel Lloyd called for the authority to closely scrutinise Norfolk’s water company, Anglian Water. 

North Norfolk District Council is doing an IT upgrade, meaning its local search departmet is closed

The decision was made at a North Norfolk District Council meeting on Tuesday evening - Credit: Archant

“This region has suffered a number of sewage discharges, not only on the coast, but inland as well,” said councillor Lloyd.

“All I’m looking for here really is greater transparency from the water companies."

North Norfolk District Council member Nigel Lloyd

Liberal Democrat councillor Nigel Lloyd - Credit: Archant

Describing the fact even slight weather events can cause the overflows, Lib Dem councillor Harry Blathwayt said: “These are not storm occasions, these are slight drizzle occasions.

Councillor Harry Blathwayt.

Liberal Democrat councillor Harry Blathwayt - Credit: Archant

“We have, at Knacker’s Wood in Horning, an almost continuous discharge of foul water into the River Ant.”

The Conservative group offered to support the motion if it was amended to require Anglian Water to report sewage discharges to the council when they occur.

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Conservative councillor Nigel Pearce said: “I’m as political as anybody else - this is a political chamber - but this amendment is not political, it is merely I think strengthening the cooperation, the communication between this council and Anglian Water.”

Nigel Pearce

Conservative councillor Nigel Pearce

The council agreed to seek further details from Anglian Water on the frequency of sewage discharges, to require sewage discharges to be immediately reported to the NNDC’s environmental health department, and for regular updates on improvements to the district’s sewerage.

In a statement on the government's recent environment legislation, Anglian Water: “We welcome the environment bill’s new provisions on storm overflows, and are keen for the secretary of state to bring forward a plan to reduce discharges from storm overflows and reduce their impacts."

On the situation at Horning, an Anglian Water spokesperson said: “We know what is being recorded as a spill at Horning Water Recycling Centre is largely river water from the Norfolk Broads getting into our sewer pipes and being recirculated, not sewage.

"We’re already working to fix this as, in an ideal world, river and rain water wouldn’t end up in sewers in the first place, as that risks overloading them.”

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