CPRE Hertfordshire Calls for Action on Sewerage Infrastructure

Water Outfall Standon - pollution

CPRE Hertfordshire has called for local planning authorities to use ‘pre-commencement’ planning conditions to prevent development from taking place until sufficient sewerage provision has been made as sewage pollution of our waterways reaches crisis point.

According to the government’s sewage spill data for 2023, there were over 800 spills in Hertfordshire last year resulting in the release of raw sewage into our waterways, for a total duration of over 7,800 hours, or the equivalent of 325 days’ continuous flow. This affected all of Hertfordshire’s chalk streams and rivers, many of their tributaries, and our three canals: the Grand Union, the Lee Navigation and the Stort Navigation.

Cottered and Brickendon topped the league table once again for the most sewage spills, as they did in 2022. But Berkhamsted and Dagnall are not far behind. A full list of sewage spills and their locations in Hertfordshire can be found here.

The data shows that water companies need to do more, more quickly, to improve operational performance and reduce the sewage polluting our waterways.

However, CPRE Hertfordshire argues that there are wider concerns including that our existing sewerage infrastructure will not be able to cope with the huge housing growth proposed across Hertfordshire.

Abby Coften, Chief Executive of CPRE Hertfordshire says: ‘It is shocking to see how many of our waterways in Hertfordshire have been affected by sewage spills and yet developing an adequate sewerage infrastructure appears to be overlooked or deprioritised when it comes to new home developments.

‘We want to see local planning authorities using pre-commencement planning conditions to prevent development from taking place until sufficient sewerage provision has been made. We also call for tighter restrictions on developers to ensure they can demonstrate that adequate sewerage infrastructure is in place before the first dwellings are occupied.’

For an in-depth look at Hertfordshire’s waterways and CPRE’s calls for action, visit: www.cpreherts.org.uk/news/sewage-spill-data-for-2023-whats-in-our-hertfordshire-waterways

Image: Pollution at the water outfall at Standon Works on the River Rib by Tim Hagyard