Councillor Pavitt summarised his report and outlined the Water and Rivers motion, which had also been proposed by Councillors Caton, Criscione, Fairhurst, Luck and Tayler.
He stated that in July 2019, the Council had declared a Climate & Ecological Emergency with a plan of action based on Air Quality, Biodiversity and Carbon-induced climate change. Rivers played an essential part in biodiversity, particularly those classified as chalk streams. Over-abstraction of the chalk aquifer was destroying these rivers and their biodiversity. He said that the Council must act to raise awareness of this threat and demand that those responsible for water supply and environmental protection act now to protect the supply of water to Uttlesford and to avoid the loss of important river habitats.
Councillor Pepper had seconded the motion and reserved the right to speak.
Councillors Fairhurst, Evans, Khan, Bagnall, Hargreaves, Lees, Isham, Criscione, Light, Luck and Tayler all spoke in support of the motion.
· that this was an urgent matter,
· that water did not respect boundaries
· that there was a duty to cooperate with neighbouring Councils
· that chalk streams were essential
· that water was not an endless resource
· that new homes could not be built without water supplies and
· that there was currently a lack of water flow in the district.
Members considered that this was a good time for this motion ahead of consideration of the Local Plan. There was a need to put pressure on Water Companies to look at the situation. Affinity Water had admitted that there would be water problems up until 2040.
Councillor Pepper congratulated Councillor Pavitt for an excellent report and formally seconded the motion.
The Chair said that a vote was needed. He asked if there was any dissent and ruled that the motion had been supported unanimously.
RESOLVED: This Council is resolved:
1) To act to raise awareness of the threat to its rivers and to:
(a) Call on those responsible for water supply and environmental protection to adopt immediate measures to avoid the loss of important river habitats.
(b) Lobby Central Government to gain better recognition of both Uttlesford’s water imperatives and also the need to protect its Chalk streams.
2) To make water supply and river health a material consideration of sustainability when assessing major applications for development within the district.
3) When developing the district Local Plan to give full and detailed consideration to:
(a) The sustainable provision of water throughout the district; and
(b) Protection of the Chalk stream habitats of Uttlesford.
4) At the earliest opportunity to introduce stringent policies for new buildings in respect of water conservation and recycling.
5) To call on the Environment Agency to:
(a) Immediately submit a plan for restoring a proper and consistent flow to the rivers of Uttlesford; and
(b) Propose a programme for monitoring water quality and restoring the biological health of rivers to at least “good” as defined in the Water Framework Directive; and
(c) Ensure that the alkalinity of the Chalk streams within Uttlesford is and continues to be sufficient to safeguard the natural ecology associated with a Chalk stream environment.
The meeting ended at 9.57pm.