Leicestershire’s Development and Control Committee will be discussing a controversial application next Thursday (11/8/16) to dispose of surplus topsoil onto fields above the Kelham Bridge Nature Reserve. 2016/0781/07 (2016/CM/0170/LCC) Bloor Homes.
The waste soil has been generated by the construction of adjacent residential development, Land to the South of Standard Hill, Hugglescote, (North West Leicestershire District)
As Local Member, I wish to raise concerns regarding this proposal which has the potential to pollute the nearby watercourse at Kelham Bridge Nature Reserve.
It is illegal to pollute a watercourse. Any watercourse. Soil run off is considered a pollutant. The soil has several effects on the water and any life in the water.
Soil clouds the water itself, this has the effect of reducing light penetration and greatly reduces the oxygen in the water affecting the viability of all life. Soil acts to block fish’s gills and covers up and kills all plant and invertebrate life.
Some soil is held in suspension and can be carried for many miles before gradually falling out. The larger the particles (depending on water volume and flow) the earlier they settle on the bottom of the watercourse. This causes silting up and flooding.
This particular watercourse has caused significant flooding in the Standard Hill area in the past. See photograph below taken in November 2012.
The watercourse to the west (left) was dredged to remove a build up of silt and plant matter.
The steeply sloping fields to each side of this tributary to Sence watercourse act as rain water receptors. The water gets to the watercourse as surface run off during heavy rainfall and sub surface flow. To allow a significant amount of loose top soil to be layered immediately above this important watercourse will produce silt and sediment contamination of the water course.
Whilst just soil contamination is deemed illegal, this soil is being taken from a Class 1 agricultural site which produced several crops a year. There is a high likelihood that the field was regularly fertilized. So there may be a risk of phosphate and other chemicals finding their way into this water course.
This watercourse is an important tributary of the River Sence and joins it several hundred metres away at Kelham Bridge where there is a nationally important Nature Reserve. From this area the River then flows through the Sence Valley Park, another nature reserve.
The ecological assessment conducted by the developer has limited itself to a desktop exercise and a survey of the fields where the soil is to be deposited.
The assessment has not included the potential impact of soil run off on the nature reserves of the Sence Valley. There have been no ecological reviews of the valley wildlife that could be adversely affected. I understand that great crested newts, water voles and grass snakes and even otters have been seen in this area.
The Environment Agency has not made an official comment on this application.
Risk to this Authority
There is no pressing need to place the surplus top soil on these sloping fields. It is an application of convenience only.
Should this application be approved and should a member of the public see any silt or sediment in this watercourse and a complaint made to the Environment Agency be upheld, LCC could be seen to have been negligent.
Dr Terri Eynon, County Councillor for Coalville