A duck swims on a river near reeds

[Source: Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils]

Councillors at both Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils voted unanimously this week to support measures to protect local rivers and waterways.

Both councils agreed motions this week designed to address concerns over water quality, and the impact of regular wastewater discharge – including untreated sewage – into local rivers and seas.

The Green party proposals, by Cllr Robert Lindsay for Babergh District Council and Cllr Andy Mellen for Mid Suffolk District Council, received cross-party support, with councillors hearing how there had been 288 sewage storm overflow spills into Babergh’s rivers last year, and 298 in Mid Suffolk.

Measures agreed include inviting officers from Anglian Water, together with representatives from the Environment Agency and Natural England to a public scrutiny meeting to answer questions on current levels of sewage discharge.

The councils will also introduce requests for further information as part of the planning process.

Cllr Lindsay, said:

“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. We need to be able to enjoy our rivers without fear of contamination from sewage.”

Seconding the motion, Cllr John Ward, leader of Babergh District Council, 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.”

Cllr Mellen, said:

“The public will be reassured to know that councillors and planning staff recognise and share the widespread concern about lack of infrastructure and these polluting discharges which show no sign of diminishing.

“We must leverage what little power we have, to do more to protect and enhance the natural world as well everyone who uses our waterways for recreation.”

Cllr Jessica Fleming, who seconded the motion before Mid Suffolk District Council said:

“This motion reflects our concerns about the water quality and recognises our responsibility to act where it is possible for us to do so.

“Clean water can, and will, be treated as a higher priority in council programmes than ever before.”