Village’s anger at plans for sewerage plant on field

21/5/14- Villagers protesting at plans for a water treatment plant in Mountfield.  Ollie Oxley with Trina and Mark Seal SUS-140522-091924001
21/5/14- Villagers protesting at plans for a water treatment plant in Mountfield. Ollie Oxley with Trina and Mark Seal SUS-140522-091924001

ANGRY residents are fighting plans to build a huge sewerage treatment plant on their village playing field.

Southern Water’s plans to build the plant on the land at Solomons Lane in Mountfield has caused a stink with residents, who say the building and access road will rob the village of this vital green space.

Although the villagers welcome the switch to mains sewage, they say the plant is in the wrong place and fear that articulated lorries, which will regularly come to the site to empty the waste, will prove a serious threat to pedestrians, especially children using the play park opposite.

Michael Mayers, who has lived in the village for 45 years, said: “We do want mains sewage. We have been looking forward to it for a long time.

“But not there.

“Children play here, the bonfire is here, there’s been boot fairs here, children come and play in the river.”

Although Southern Water says the plant will be shielded by trees, villagers feel the wastewater treatment works, which has a footprint of 5956 square metres including the access road and car park, will stick out in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Ollie Oxley, who lives in the lane with his two young children, said: “The field has flooding issues, so it’s going to be built on a plinth, four feet off the ground.”

One resident has offered some of her land, on the opposite side of the A2100, as an alternative site for the plant.

But resident Angus Peters says that Southern Water won’t entertain the idea.

He said: “It’s out the way of the village, it does not affect anyone and there can be an access route from the A2100.

“And it means no extra articulated lorries coming through Solomons Lane, which leads to the play park at one end and the playing field at the other.”

He added: “If it goes ahead, we would be the only village in this surrounding area who would have it so close to residential housing.

“We feel like we are a little voice against a big scheme.”

Southern Water told the Observer that incidents of pollution caused by leaking cesspools and septic tanks in Mountfield had led to the move towards a public sewerage system in the village.

It said the playing field was identified by experts as the most suitable site because it is one of the lowest levels in the village, which is required for the gravity system, it is close to a watercourse so treated wastewater can be safety recycled back into the environment and would have the least impact on the environment.

A spokesperson for Southern Water said: “We have constructed many of these works in rural environments and we completely understand residents’ concerns about protecting their community.

“We believe we have submitted a planning application to East Sussex Country Council which will provide essential services with minimal impact on the environment.

“The proposed works includes a planting programme to screen the works using species which are indigenous to the local area.

“We will also create an access roadway from ‘grasscrete’. This is a concrete surface which grass can grow through giving the impression of a grassed area.

“The lorry movements to the works are likely to be fewer than the number of tankers entering the village to remove cess from the private tanks.

“We estimate there will be about two a month or one tanker every two weeks visiting the site.

“The likelihood of odour is low due to the type of treatment works which will be installed.

“In 1999 East Sussex County Council gave us planning permission for a wastewater treatment works on this same site. That permission lapsed but we now have a legal obligation to provide a system to protect the community from pollution.”

She added the proposed alternative site, on the opposite side of the A2100, was not suitable as it had a history of flooding, access issues and any work would have a greater environmental impact.

She added that the roadway would need to be raised about five feet as the field is at a lower level than the road access.

A decision on the plans is due to be made by East Sussex County Council on June 18.