If you had just moved to Folkestone and Hythe in the past two years, you may well be thinking how wet our Winters are. The fact of the matter is that we have experienced two of the wettest winters that I can remember.
Our area has the status of Water Stressed with good reason. During the mid nineties, amid drought conditions, a scheme was in place to transport water across the North Sea from Scandinavia to supply our region due to very low Groundwater levels to supplement dwindling supplies. Another plan was to import water through the Fire Hydrant system of the Channel Tunnel, once again, to top up potable water supplies. With very little headroom in the Dour Region (Folkestone, Hythe and Dover) we are now at a critical stage of water supply to the near 160,000 homes and commercial/Industrial units within Affinity Water’s (AW) catchment area. There have been countless occasions where the threat of water restrictions, in one form or another, has been on the cards with the Tanker Drought probably being the most memorable: https://historicdroughts.ceh.ac.uk/content/tanker-drought-1995-1998
The plan to build almost 15,000 more homes, including the Otterpool New Town scheme is quite frankly unbelievable. Add to that, the ever expanding housing schemes in the Dover District, especially at Whitfield, and you have a pending environmental problem. Low river flows, Groundwater levels plummeting, Water courses running dry, Wildlife destroyed. The threat of Groundwaters becoming brackish,
Compounding the problem is that of Climate change. Whether you think it’s man-made or cyclical, the fact remains that our weather is changing; getting warmer. According to the Met Office, nine of the warmest years ever recorded in the UK have occured since 2002. Thames Water forecasts that, by 2050, our Summers may be an average of 3 degrees hotter and 18% drier.
So, how do we plan to mitigate for water shortages, and who pays?
We are constantly being advised to use less water. Why? – Because there is little to spare. We are being offered freebies from Affinity Water; devices to save water (aerated shower heads and the like) Why? Once again, there’s little to spare. WE ARE THE DRIEST AREA IN THE UK.
The recent Core Strategy Review (CSR) was enlightening in the respect that mitigation measures were exposed as a box ticking exercise to placate both the planning Inspectors and the public. Let’s take the proposed housing estate being tagged as Otterpool Park. Our Council, FHDC, say that water usage per person (per capita consumption – PCC) will be 90 litres per person per day. The planning Inspectors thought this figure to be too low and has settled on a figure of 110 PCC as outlined in the Building regulations. This is, of course, still aspirational. At the moment, the average Briton uses 142 litres per day. So the aspirational figure of 110 PCC is a reduction of 32 litres. Affinity Water tells us that we use 155 litres, Given the above reduction, that would bring down the PCC to 123 litres.Still very much, aspirational.
We are then told by FHDC that a team of plumbers will visit homes within the district and replace old cisterns for new ones, reducing the flush by 3 litres (full flush) and 6 litres (half flush) How are these homes chosen and who pays for this work to be carried out? In any event, modern cisterns will never be compatible with older type pans due to the profile and litreage in the bowl. All of this is complete tosh and will never happen.
The CSR also threw up the discrepancies in funding for the utilties across Otterpool Park. FHDC’s consultants say that £30 million will be enough to install all utilities, including water mains, across the site. When questioned whether it will include the upgrade in the services to and from Paddlesworth reservoir (which isn’t really a reservoir – merely, a transfer pool) and associated 500mm trunk mains ancillary pipework and booster stations, he didn’t know. In a meeting between FHDC (then SDC), KCC and AW 30th September 2016, Ian Macathy (AW) said. ‘In terms of funding, AW advised that costs associated with water abstraction and high level plant are likely to be costs that all AW customers would have to meet.‘ Funding for reservoirs, booster staions and trunking mains would be a matter for agreement with developers while local level mains pipes and connections into new homes would be fully developer funded’. It would appear that no agreement has been settled between AW and FHDC on booster stations and trunking mains, as underlined above. Moreover, further abstraction and high level plant costs would have to be met by AW customers – You and Me.
Talk of building a desalination plant has been mooted on several occasions. AW said they would never build one, Leader of FHDC, David Monk said the Council could part fund the building of such a plant. Where would the money come from? Beckton (London) desalination plant cost £250 million over ten years ago. Where would it be sited? Hythe?, Folkestone?
There is no doubt that the further development of our already water stressed area is a ‘bridge too far’ in terms of development overload.
Our Association will be opposing this scale of unwarranted development, leading to the ruination of our way of life and desecration of our countryside. Please let us know what you think in our comments section or feedback.