Water pollution in the Solent

The water environment within the Solent region is one of the most important for wildlife in the United Kingdom. There are high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus input to this water environment causing algal blooms which suffocate much of the invertebrate life with knock on effects on other wildlife. Whilst the biggest contributor to the nitrate is agriculture, a bigger population also causes an increase in nitrogen discharges. 
Since a European court case in 2019, planning authorities have to ensure that any new housing development within 5.6k of the Solent EU protected sites does not add to the nitrates by applying mitigating options elsewhere. This has caused development to stall across the south coast including all of Fareham Borough. 
The Conservative Government is applying pressure on local planning authorities to “build,build,build” whilst another arm of the same Government, the Environment Agency, is insisting that the planning authorities first satisfy themselves that there will be no harm to the protected sites from further development.
Fareham Borough Council has been working with Natural England to find a solution to get building started again. These include:-

  • A £2.3m grant from the Government to provide mitigation
  • Delegating authority to one Officer for many of the stalled applications, thus removing democratic oversight
  • Signing a legal agreement with Hampshire Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) to use land they have bought and taken out of agriculture and using the reduced nitrates to sell offsetting ‘credits’ to developers to enable them to build

Planning decisions have re-started and the majority Conservative party are voting unanimously to approve. The Lib Dem (and Independent) Councillors have fought to stop these developments being approved until more robust mitigation is applied. They have also worked hard to delay a decision on signing the (HIWWT) legal agreement and voted against the delegated officer authority being extended. Unfortunately, it’s all about the numbers. More Lib Dem Councillors are needed for us to make a difference and stand a chance of winning these arguments to save our environment rather than putting more money into the pockets of developers. 

Cycle pathology

Local councils have put in temporary schemes to improve walking and cycling safety in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

They are bidding for funds for more projects.

In the longer term, we need high-quality permanent improvements to encourage a shift away from unnecessary, polluting car journeys to healthier walking and cycling.

The Government recently announced funds would be made available to encourage such projects.

But as this well-researched paper by Fareham Liberal Democrat and international tri-athlete David Abrams shows, none of Fareham’s current cycle routes would qualify for funding. On Your Bikes.

David is engaging with Council officers and the cycling charity Sustrans to seek better solutions.

Off yer bike: Barrie’s story

Like many people lucky enough to have a garden to use during the Coronavirus lockdown period, I accumulated much more garden waste (grass, weeds, etc) than usual. During this time the waste collection service was suspended and the recycling centre closed so when the service restarted I had plenty of garden waste to dispose of.

I have tried composting in the past but have not got sufficient/suitable space.

I looked at buying the green disposable garden waste bags from the council but considered the £40 charge for 25 bags or £10 for 5 bags a bit steep. However, even more off-putting, I am told by FBC that these bags are NOT made of a compostable material and the bags are not recyclable because there are no manufacturers that will recycle it.

Being green in colour does not make them compostable or bio-degradable and disposable means they are emptied of their contents, added to non-recyclable waste, and burned for energy recovery (how much energy can you get from a plastic bag?!).

Taking green garden waste to the recycling centre by car would be an unnecessary journey along with the associated air pollution.

 So I looked at cycling, carrying the garden waste in a small trailer, a mere 15 minute ride from Stubbington to the Grange Road recycling facility.

This time I am thwarted by HCC who state that ‘entering the recycling facility on a bicycle would be considered ‘pedestrian access’ and that this has always been ‘discouraged’ as HWRCs do not have pedestrian accesses. HCC also ask that customers use a vehicle to enter and exit sites safely to help ensure the safety of customers and staff and also to avoid accusations of queue jumping: not forgetting that I am ‘safe’ to cycle on the roads to the facility!

Considering council tax goes to support the recycling facilities, the costs of additional ‘green’ bags and the end product being sold back to us at a profit (no doubt) it seems as though we are being taken for a ride.

Barrie Webb