Water companies have been urged to “shoulder their responsibilities” by researchers who found that “poor management” of sewage was the main source of microplastic pollution in UK rivers. Meanwhile, Greens in the Lords are considering putting an amendment to the Environment Bill banning water companies from pollluting rivers.
At least 108 ancient woods are threatened with loss or damage from the two phases of HS2, with phase one already underway. A review of the HS2 project has been set up by the government and I have raised the issue of a complete suspension of all environmentally damaging work with the review team. Extinction rebellion have joined with local campaigners and with Chris Packham to organise protests against the work going ahead.
Work on the woodlands has now been suspended, which is great. These woodlands are crucial spots for biodiversity; the trees are hundreds of years old and have therefore become prized spots for rare invertebrates, bats and birds. However, there are many other habitats that need preserving while the review takes place.
Colne Valley is a good example of a site that needs treating with caution. It is not only beautiful, its aquifer is one of the main water supplies for London. Local campaigners have today sent HS2 a warning notice of intended legal action if the company goes ahead with plans to drive, a hole 30m deep, straight through the sub-soil of a highly polluted area and into the permeable rock of the aquifer below. This would potentially be a criminal act, as it would impact on the water supply of several million people.
A local pumping station had to be closed down a few years ago because of pollution from a local landfill site. Local greens have evidence that the closure of that pumping station has changed the flow of the underground water and it now goes directly under where HS2 are doing their work. I have asked a series of questions about this in the Lords and intend to send a lot more. HS2 need to start taking their environmental responsibilities seriously.
The chalk hills of the Chilterns act as a giant reservoir, with water slowing seeping down into streams in the Colne Valley and onwards into the Thames Valley to London. The crowded South East often has periods of being low on water and with the area around the Colne Valley supplying 22% of London’s water, the threat of water pollution is a major concern. There is an obvious danger to drilling down 70m near a landfill site in the Colne Valley, which has been declared a special site of pollution. Despite previous leaks from this landfill site leading to the contamination of a local river and the permanent closure of a pumping station, HS2 think it is worth risking London’s water supply. Local people, such as Green Party campaigner Sarah Green, disagree strongly. Continue reading “HS2, Colne Valley and the threat to London’s water supply”
Putting water back into public hands would not end the need for hosepipe bans, but it would make them a lot less frequent. For starters, there is over £13.5bn paid to shareholders in the past 8 years that could be spent fixing leaking pipes that leaked away 20% of the treated clean water. That’s £13.5 billion, not million. That means pipes fixed, new sewers constructed and prices held down. Continue reading “Water is too precious to stay in private hands”