Environment Report from MPC AGM 4 June

The Pillhill Brook

The current status of the Pillhill Brook is officially classed as, “being in ‘moderate’ ecological condition” under the EU Water Framework Directive, meaning it is failing WFD targets.  A Monxton Riparian owner has recently commissioned an expert report on the section of Pillhill Brook which runs through his property, which he has kindly made available to us.  It also states that, “The Environment Agency is tasked with bringing all natural rivers in England up to ‘Good’ condition and presently the river is predicted to achieve this target by 2015.”  A survey of the Pillhill Brook and the surrounding area has been commissioned by the Environment Agency, which is in now in progress.

There have been a number of issues with the brook, some due to two unauthorised obstructions in the brook.  There have been two planning applications made in relation to these two obstructions, one a retrospective planning application for a bridge in the brook, to which there were numerous objections, but despite this, permission was granted by the TVBC Northern Area Planning Committee.  There have also been a large number of objections to the planning application for the construction of a replacement weir on top of the old weir.  This application is still pending and is waiting to be scheduled to be called to committee at TVBC. The proposed replacement weir, which in its current form will be raised, will continue to have an adverse effect on flooding upstream and the condition of the natural river channel of this unique chalk stream.  The removal of the dam from the original weir would return the brook to its original status quo.  The lack of wild brown trout in the brook is a concern, and we continue to try and rectify the issues which adversely affect the trout’s habitat.

Pumping Station

There are no issues with the Pumping Station, although ground water levels remain high.  As part of Southern Water’s efforts to alleviate groundwater flooding affecting our sewers, they used tankers and pumps to over pump to remove excess water from our sewer network.  Two brand new biological treatment tanks were installed, which are designed to treat the heavily-diluted wastewater prior to it being discharged in to the Pillhill Brook.  Over pumping is more effective than using tankers in keeping our sewers flowing and is an emergency measure, which is agreed to by the Environment Agency. Our MP, Sir George Young, was instrumental in obtaining the go ahead for the over pumping after his intervention on our behalf.  Cllr Balding is due to meet a Southern Water representative in the next few weeks to discuss cleaning up the site and surrounding area, and repairing the damage done to the verges.

Monxton Flood Advisory Committee

The Monxton Flood Advisory Committee is a sub-committee of, and reportable to, the Monxton Parish Council.  The committee comprises Judith Balding, Adrian Drage, Pamela Fisk and Paul Richards.  This committee was formed this year, to liaise with villagers and the four agencies involved in dealing with the issues which have arisen from the pumping station flooding. A meeting is planned with all the parties concerned, to discuss what action can be taken to avoid this happening again in the future.

Trees

There have been a number of tree applications in the village with no objections.  Work is in progress to cut back the trees and tidy up the area around the Village Hall.  There are several trees on the Village Green which need attention and any proposed works will be done later in the year.

Footpaths & Bridleways

There have been the very few issues with the footpaths and bridleways, but with the wet and mild weather in recent months, the footpaths around Monxton quickly become very overgrown.  The footpaths have now been cleared, and in the future we plan to cut and strim them three times a year, instead of twice a year, in an effort to keep them well maintained.

Fracking

There has been widespread publicity on fracking in the last year and it remains a contentious issue.  The Department for Energy and Climate Change has issued drilling licences for possible fracking underneath an area a few miles from Andover, Stockbridge and many historic villages, including Monxton.  Based on information available from DECC, the existing licences are located at the following locations: North of Winchester, from Kings Worthy stretching west almost to Stockbridge, and further north, reaching from Chilbolton west to Amport.  Fracking companies will need planning permission from the Hampshire County Council, as the minerals authority, if they wish to extract any oil or gas.

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