Decision Maker: Planning Policy Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Southern Water have initiated an engagement
and consultation exercise via webinars and supporting documents on
preparing a Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP) for the South
East region, with component water company plans. The WRMP will set
out how water consumption, efficiency standards and new sources and
supplies can be managed to protect and conserve the water resource
(West Sussex is in an area of water stress) This report will
formulate the Committees provisional response. The consultation
ends in February 2023.
Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Planning Policy Team Leader presented the report which briefed the Committee on the key messages from the consultations being held on the regional and individual water company Water Resources Management Plans (WRMP) and Arun’s proposed responses. It was noted that the WRMPs relevant to Arun include Southern Water, Portsmouth Water and Icosa Water plans related to maintaining water supplies into the future.
Members then took part in a full debate on the item where a number of points were raised. There was concern that the presentations prepared by the Water Companies made little or no reference to Arun. The District’s relationship with water was raised by a number of Members with some exasperation in discussing water scarcity when parts of the District were currently suffering from considerable flooding. The proposal for a desalination plant on the river Arun was raised and Members spoke both in favour and against. The combining of desalination and water recycling at Ford made sense for some, whereas other Members would need considerable safeguards before supporting such proposals over safety concerns given the reputation specifically of Southern Water with its lack of investment in new infrastructure to keep stormwater separate from sewage and the resultant discharges into the sea. The importance of tourism to the local economy and the impact of the lack of investment to the economy and the reputation of Arun’s resorts was also noted. The inability of Portsmouth Water to meet current supply demands was raised. The need for clarity on the capacity of the network and whether too much stress was being put on the water system in Arun were discussed in response. Concerns were also raised around biodiversity and the need to consider wider solutions, the need for better engagement with landholders and the impacts of water neutrality in adjacent authorities.
Members and Officers concluded the discussion by recognising the challenges brought by climate change to water resource management. The recommendations were then proposed by Councillor Hughes and seconded by Councillor Bower.
RESOLVED – That
1. The content of the draft Best Value Regional Plan, the Southern Water draft Water Resources Management Plan, the Portsmouth Water draft Water Resources Management Plan and Icosa Water, where they affect Arun District, be noted; and
2. The proposed responses to the draft Best Value Regional Plan (Appendix 2); the Southern Water draft Water Resources Management Plan (Appendix 3); the Portsmouth Water draft Water Resources Management Plan (Appendix 4) and the Icosa Water draft Water Resource Management Plan (Appendix 5) be agreed.
Report author: Charlotte Hardy
Publication date: 07/02/2023
Date of decision: 26/01/2023
Decided at meeting: 26/01/2023 - Planning Policy Committee