urged to help Burnham meet EU's strict new water regulations
Water, the Environment Agency, the Drainage Board and Sedgemoor
District Council have this week been asked do all they can to
improve the quality of Burnham's bathing water ahead of new EU
regulations coming into force next year.
matter was raised at a meeting of the Sedgemoor District Council
Community Scrutiny Committee on Monday (December 8th).
change to EU policy back in 2006 has meant that the current classification
of bathing water will change next year to a more demanding set
of criteria. The change means that bathing water off Burnham might
fall below the new standards unless improvements are made across
the Rivers Brue and Parrett catchment areas.
town councillors Ken Smout and Chris Williams attended the meeting
and said it had been helpful to again raise the profile of the
issue. "It showed how we all have to work together - residents,
businesses, councils and agencies to address the issue,"
Conservative James Heappey, who also attended, challenged the
perceived delay in getting to grips with this problem, saying:
"I have seen press releases from Wessex Water and the Environment
Agency which talk about the complexity in developing new models
to understand the impact of these changes on bathing water at
"I have no doubt that these models are indeed complex and
would certainly have meant that those responsible could not have
started to make the necessary improvements immediately but I would
simply note that over the same length of time - between 1961 and
1969 - NASA completed a project that put a man on the moon!"
brought Julie Girling MEP to Burnham in July so that she could
bring her significant expertise to bear on this issue. Mrs Girling
has subsequently met with Wessex Water and has written to you
separately today. I know that she is encouraged by the plans that
are now in place but notes that they are at least a year too late."
the result of that tardiness is that Burnham must display signs
that dissuade tourists from visiting then that delay could prove
to be very costly for our local economy... the risk of missing
these targets is being carried by the Burnham-on-Sea tourist industry.
We owe it to them to put that right not as a matter of routine
maintenance but as a priority and well before there is any danger
of those signs becoming permanent."
of Wessex Water and the Environment Agency defended their actions
to date and outlined their plans for rectifying the issues that
have been identified across the 850 square mile catchment area.
reassured councillors that they were working in partnership with
local authorities to deliver the improvements necessary and that
they had already taken a large number of enforcement actions against
those found to be causing the pollution.
the meeting, Mr Heappey said: "The authorities are on this
and the amount that they plan to invest is significant but I will
continue to hold them to account and to make sure this receives
the priority it should. We must also make sure we do our bit by
disposing of cooking oils correctly, cleaning up after our dogs,
not feeding the seagulls on the sea front and making sure litter
goes in the bins. Our target should not be to hit the minimum
standards but to aim for the very highest."
Wessex Water, the Environment Agency nor Sedgemoor District Council
were able to make any guarantees about the initial classification
of the water when the new system comes into being next year but
all demonstrated their commitment to improving the quality of
the water before the warning signs became permanent.