Thames Water’s Steve Robertson leaves under a cloud
As reported by the Daily Mail Thames Water’s Chief Executive Steve Robertson has left his job after failing to turn the utility provider’s fortunes around. Chairman Ian Marchant is taking Robertson’s place while they look for a replacement.
Mr Robertson was in the job for less than three years. The past six months alone has seen Themes Water criticised by the industry’s regulator about leaks, its reaction to the so-called Beast from the East and even its planning for the future. While Mr Robertson was said to have put ‘building blocks’ in place during his time with the firm, the negatives obviously overshadowed the positives.
180 new homes are being built despite the water pollution risk
According to the Eastern Daily Press, a new development of as many as 180 homes is going ahead despite ‘reservations from the Environmental Agency and the NHS’.
Gladman Developments Ltd wants to build on a plot off Thetford Road in Watton but the Environment Agency is worried the development could pollute drinking water supplied from under the site. The site’s drainage management is going to be managed via a borehole soakaway, and the Agency says it would pose an ‘unacceptable risk’ of groundwater pollution.
On the other hand, a risk assessment submitted with the plans says the groundwater is deep enough down, way below the soakaway, and pollution shouldn’t be an issue. The Agency responded by saying, “We would only agree to the use of deep bore soakaways once it has been satisfactorily demonstrated that alternatives have been explored and exhausted.”
This and a plethora of similar stories continue to highlight the tension between the need for new housing stock and the lack of suitable land to build it on. New builds are increasingly taking place on flood plains and marshy land, often revealed by the names of the developments, ‘Watermead’ being a good example! As climate change continues, sea levels rise and inland water levels do the same, we could see some developments underwater before long. We need some better longer-term thinking here.
Trout and crayfish rescued from a polluted Lincolnshire river
Apparently, brown trout and endangered crayfish had to be rescued recently when a river pollution incident took place in Lincolnshire. Over 500 fish and almost 200 protected crayfish were rescued and moved to a safe place following the pollution.
The rescue had to be carried out after a tractor overturned and spilled fertiliser into Gunby Brook, a tributary of the River Witham. Samples revealed sky-high levels of ammonia as far as two and a half miles away, potentially lethal for the river’s delicate ecology. Environment Agency staff responded fast to hold the pollution back behind temporary dams and give expert advice on the clean-up.
An investigation is already underway to pin down the circumstances surrounding the incident, and we could see legal action in the future. As the Environment Agency said, “This is a prime example of how we aim to protect wildlife and nature – undertaking this rescue meant we were able to save hundreds of creatures which otherwise could have been killed even as we were working non-stop to control the pollution. The spill is now contained and clean-up is ongoing, but our teams are still closely monitoring conditions and an investigation is underway.”
Northern Ireland businessman fined for beach pollution
Not a week goes by without spill containment being in the news. In Northern Ireland businessman James Montgomery Fleck has been fined £3000 for sewage pollution at a popular bathing beach. A run of pollution incidents at the beach were reported from March to October 2016, and Fleck was fined £500 for each incident.
Fleck had breached the terms of a discharge consent issued by a government department and was allowing sewage to flow into the sea at Ballygally Beach. A Water Quality Inspector from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency responded to reports of sewage discharging into the Ballygalley River next to a housing development. Sewage and a nasty discharge were escaping from a private sewage pumping station and eventually discharging onto the beach.
Environmental permits, spill containment, and your business
If there’s any risk at all, however small, of your business causing chemical spills or any other kind of pollution, it makes sense to protect your financial interests and keep your reputation in good order by doing everything you can to prevent pollution. We can help you achieve that.
David Cole MSEE
David is a pioneer of the spill containment and water pollution prevention industry with 30 years experience. He was instrumental in the development of CIRIA736 with The Environment Agency and is passionate about preventing water pollution.