THE Environment Agency is appealing for comments on an environmental permit application received from Countrywide Park Homes, which seeks to release 43.2 cubic metres of secondary treated sewage effluent into Frensham Great Pond.
The waste will be extracted from 90 two-bedroom residential holiday lets on land at Frensham Country Park on Wishanger Road, Churt – and will be treated by a sewage treatment plant.
However, on the Countrywide Park Homes website it states that there will be “detached single storey two and three-bedroom homes”, and not simply two-bedroom homes like the consultation indicates.
The proposed discharge is to Whitmore Vale stream, which is a tributary of Frensham Great Pond which leads to the River Wey.
The main purpose of the Environment Agency consultation is to ask residents and those further afield if they have any concerns relevant to the permit application – the consultation seeks to make the best decision when permitting.
Frensham Great Pond draws in thousands of holidaymakers, residents, walkers and swimmers every year, including many from neighbouring East Hampshire.
It is home to a diverse array of wildlife, such as white-clawed crayfish (a protected species), plus the many clubs that use the waters, including Frensham Sailing Club, the Farnham Angling Society, and Frensham Sailability.
The application comes after Countrywide Park Homes took ownership of Symondstone Farm caravan park in Churt. Commenting on the application, Farnham MP Jeremy Hunt said: “I was very concerned to hear about the application to release sewage into one of our most picturesque and much-loved areas of countryside.
“People are understandably worried about the prospect of such action and I will make sure any concerns are passed on to the Environmental Agency. We must ensure all the environmental implications and any health risks are looked at very carefully before any decision is made.”
East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds has backed Mr Hunt’s comments and will be putting the concerns of East Hampshire’s constituents to the Environment Agency.
The Environment Agency has stated that it will take all “consultation responses into consideration as part of our determination of the permit. If we decide to grant the permit we will explain how we have made our decision and how we have addressed the concerns that were raised”.
The agency will only issue a permit if it believes that harm to the environment, people and wildlife will be minimised and that the operator has the ability to meet the conditions of the permit.
Further in the consultation the agency noted that “providing a business can prove that the proposed activities meets all the legal requirements, including environmental, technological and health requirements, then we are legally obliged to issue a permit, even if some people do not approve of the decision”.
Jonathan Harvey, a partner at the development company, said: “Countrywide Park Homes sought the professional advice of many drainage specialists before submitting the environmental permit application.
“The determination with how best to proceed is now with the Environment Agency. Countrywide Park Homes is committed to ensuring that any waste from the site is treated and disposed of in a suitable manner so as not to damage the local environment.
“As such, Countrywide Park Homes plans to follow the expert advice provided by the Environment Agency once a recommendation has been made.”
In response to this consultation, a spokesman for Symondstone Community Action Group, set up in opposition to Countrywide Park Homes’ application at Symondstone Farm on Wishanger Road, said: “We are pleased that the consultation period has been extended to allow all interested parties to make their representations. We remain concerned with the proposal as it currently stands and trust that the Environment Agency will take all representations into account before making their decision.
“As expressed by Jeremy Hunt, Frensham Pond and the surrounding heathland are a precious resource that should be preserved and not placed at unnecessary risk.
“We trust that the Environment Agency will ensure that this is the case and that cost considerations will not be a deciding issue.”
To comment on this application, visit tinyurl.com/hoxgrgj and use reference code EPR/FB3896EQ/A001.
To submit a response, or to ask for a printed version of the document to be posted, call the permitting and support centre on 03708 506 506 or e-mail [email protected].
Alternatively, post a response to Environment Agency Permitting and Support Centre, The Water Quality Team, Quadrant 2, 99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield, S9 4WF.