Water Supply: Chilterns

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 1st August 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

To ask Her Majesty's Government what risk management measures have been put in place to control the spread of contaminants into the mid-Chiltern aquifer since 2011.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Environment Agency (EA) risk-manages the spread of contaminants into the mid-Chiltern groundwater body using the CLR11/Land Contamination Risk Management framework, and the EA’s approach to groundwater protection. The EA agree voluntary remediation statements with relevant parties, and/or serve mandatory remediation notices under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA).

The EPA also gives the EA the power to enforce and control emissions to groundwater which is part of the Water Framework Directive’s Thames River Basin Management Plan. The plan provides a detailed explanation of the management of both waste water, and pollution from towns, cities and transport. Measures include, but are not limited to:

  • The EA issues environmental permits to protect the environment from pollutants.

  • They work with the water industry to develop a long-term strategy for sewerage to prevent deterioration of permitted discharges.

  • The EA and the Health and Safety Inspectorate enforce restrictions and bans on the use of certain chemicals.

  • Local Government considers the impact on water quality in all aspects of planning and development.

  • The EA uses anti-pollution works powers under the Water Resources Act 1991 to prevent or clean up small scale pollution, e.g. repairing misconnections.

  • Industry, manufacturing and other business comply with existing regulations, e.g. Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 to make sure that chemicals are properly managed and surface water drainage is properly used and maintained.

  • The EA and Highways England apply the memorandum of understanding agreement covering the strategic road network and remediation of high risk outfalls.

  • The EA and Network Rail operate under the terms of a memorandum of understanding covering contaminated land, water discharge and use of pesticides.

  • The EA and the water industry investigate and deal with misconnections, for example, through the National Misconnections Strategy group and in accordance with Defra’s diffuse urban action plan.

  • Local Government works with industry, manufacturing and other business (Local Enterprise Partnerships), and non-governmental organisations (catchment partnerships and Local Nature Partnerships) to develop joint improvement programmes.

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