Sewage capacity matters

When new developments are planned, is it crucial to ensure that these do not overwhelm existing drainage systems. This is particularly important in Buckingham, a growing town with a history of flooding.
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Over the past year, Buckingham residents have seen heavy rainfall causing pressure on the drainage system and this has, unfortunately, resulted in the drains and sewers becoming overwhelmed in some areas of the town.

It was agreed at a meeting of Buckingham Town Council, to write to the Secretary of State and ask if new legislation will be introduced to give powers to local authorities which would impose planning conditions to resolve the clash between different sections of the Water Industry Act 1991. This piece of legislation creates an obligation for water companies to connect all new developments to public sewers, regardless of any capacity issues, and also in effect makes it impossible for water companies to object or for Local Authorities to refuse the granting of planning permission on the grounds that no improvement works are planned. Buckingham Town Councillors would like to see the introduction of agreements in advance to ensure additional capacity is created; this would be funded in partnership with the water company and the developer.

The Town Clerk received a response to their letter to the Secretary of State offering assurance that the Government is aware of this issue and the challenges it poses to local planning authorities and stating that the Government agrees that sewage treatment capacity must match the housing supply demand. It explained that addressing and upgrading wastewater treatment works is a government priority and through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, the Government is legislating to require the upgrade of wastewater treatment works in designated catchments by 1 April 2030.

Burst water main on Tingewick Road, BuckinghamBurst water main on Tingewick Road, Buckingham
Burst water main on Tingewick Road, Buckingham

The Town Council has also contacted Anglian Water and invited them to a meeting in the town to discuss sewage infrastructure and planning. Should this meeting take place, senior planning officers from Buckinghamshire Council would also be invited to take part.

Cllr. Schaefer, Town Mayor, and Chair of Full Council, said that “Given the increasingly obvious impacts of climate change, I hope that future planning law will evolve so that better addresses the increasing risk of flooding from severe weather events”