A new public sewage system for Three Oaks including a wastewater treatment works and pumping station was agreed this week.
An application for the two facilities off Fourteen Acres Lane and Butcher’s Lane, which would cover all waste water flows within the village as households currently rely on private drainage systems, was approved by East Sussex County Council’s Planning Committee on Wednesday.
Southern Water is legally required by the Environment Agency to provide the new sewage system, but resident John Rogers questioned whether the ‘severe disruption’ was worth it to solve a ‘debatable pollution issue caused by a small number of residents’ drainage systems’.
Ruth Harding, acting as the planning agent for Southern Water, said: “To do nothing is not an option here, a public sewage system must be build in Three Oaks.”
She explained they would aim to keep disruption to an absolute minimum, while the site would be screened by landscaping as much as possible.
During the debate Roy Galley voiced concerns around flood risk, screening of the site, and whether alternative sites had been explored.
Meanwhile both Kathryn Field and Steve Wallis repeated the point about landscaping and the impact the new buildings and fencing would have on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
But officers explained that the proposed planting scheme was ‘substantial’, and a scheme would have to cause severe harm to warrant looking at alternative sites.
Godfrey Daniel, chairman of the committee, said: “This may not be the perfect solution but it’s a solution to deal with the issues that exist.”
The officers’ report explained that ‘it has been evident for some time that pollution has been occurring in the village due to failing private drainage systems’.
Rother District Council applied to Southern Water to provide a public sewerage system back in 1996 but this was rejected in 1998.
The council then went to the Environment Agency (EA), which concluded that to address pollution risk in Three Oaks, a sewerage system should be built.
Although there is no legal power to force householders to connect to the new system, if the existing systems are found to be causing pollution, they can be served with an enforcement notice by Rother District Council’s environmental health officer.
This would require them to repair or replace their system or connect to the new public sewerage network.
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