Agenda item


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The Assistant Director, Commercial Services and Operations introduced the item and provided background information as to why the presentation had been requested by the Panel.


The Panel received a presentation from Adam Worley, Coastal Catchment Manager, Anglian Water Authority and Andrew Raine, Environment Manager, Environment Agency (copy attached to Agenda).


The Chair, Councillor Dark thanked officers for a detailed presentation and invited the Portfolio Holder, Environment and Coastal, Councillor Squire and Portfolio Holder, Biodiversity and Climate Change to address the Panel.


The Portfolio Holder, Environment and Coastal advised that she was the Local Government Association Member Champion for Coastal Water Quality and had regular meetings with Councils around the country who were also experiencing similar issues regarding water quality and added that it was a complicated picture of what affected the water quality.  The Portfolio Holder explained that at a recent conference it had been noted that 7% of water pollution came from storm overflows and added that if anyone would like further information to contact her. The Portfolio Holder added that arrangements were  in place where to write to Ministers regarding coastal issues.


The Portfolio Holder for Biodiversity and Climate Change advised that he had nothing further to add.


Adam Worley, Andrew Raine and the Assistant Director, Commercial Services responded to questions and comments in relation to:


           Birds being the biggest cause of pollution.

           Practical measures to control the gull population.

           Human pollution and steps that could be taken to reduce levels.

           Measures that could be taken to discourage people leaving food in bins for gulls to feed from.

           Impact on pollution from the bird population (had always been present).

           Number of samples taken at each site.

           West Lynn – sewage discharging into the Wash and impact on coastal areas.

           Steps taken to reduce pollution at West Lynn and outlined the reasons why this work had been stalled.

           How West Norfolk compared with the rest of Norfolk and coastal areas including Lincolnshire and the UK.

           Why there was a higher level of bird pollution in West Norfolk that anywhere else in the UK.

           Blue Flag 2015/2016 and why the Borough Council did not apply for the status due to the rules changing.  An annual assessment was made which could affect the score.



           Data for concentric ring points.

              Storm overflow – frequency and duration of sampling

           Volume of discharge needed to be identified.

           Spill data to be published at the end of the bathing water season and end of each year.

           Results of sampling used to determine what had gone wrong and gave examples of 28 failed samples in 2022/2023 and advised that of the 28, 2 had occurred during a 72 hour storm period.

           Heacham overload did not affect the network and was dealt with on site by using a balancing tank and then transported to King’s Lynn works to be processed.

           Action Plan for design quality at Heacham.

           Heacham – capacity to service the current population both residential and commercial.  There were no AWA plans to undertake any growth work and the current population of 54,000 did not trigger any additional work.

           At the peak of tourist season, levels exceeded at certain times.  Response given that regular sampling was undertaken and that AWA was committed to using the tanker process to eliminate any human elements.

           What had caused the presence of E-coli.


The Assistant Director, Commercial Services explained that with regard to discouraging people to leaving food in bins for birds to feed from, Great Yarmouth had undertaken some work on this and that the Borough Council would look to do something similar as part of the signage for Hunstanton.


Andrew Raine from the Environment Agency undertook to circulate the information regarding the data rings to the Panel.


Following comments on the bathing water at Heacham, Andrew Raine advised that the Environment Agency was committed to tackling the quality of the bathing water at Heacham to make a difference.


Following a question relating to Ecoli (page 44) and why two samples were taken on the same day, A Raine explained that it was normal practice to undertake one per day but would provide a response as to why two samples were taken on the same day.


Councillor Nash referred to the safer rivers and seas service app and undertook to email the link to the Panel.


The Chair, Councillor Dark thanked officers on the work undertaken to date to identify the cause.  The Chair commented that outside the bird issue were marginal gains to be had and asked if signage could help regarding location of dog poo bins, drain covers and any low cost measures that could be considered.


The Chair, Councillor Dark also outlined the issues experienced with the bird population in his garden and asked if there was any work being done to address the bird population. In response, Andrew Raine explained that there was no remit to undertake work in relation to birds but was happy to be part of any discussions.


Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Parish made a number of observation sthat there was a large population of birds and ducks the village of Heacham.  Councillor Parish commented on the water quality in Heacham.  Councillor Parish advised that he had received two complaints regarding sewage discharge from a caravan site and sewage in a garden in Mariners Way, Heacham.  Councillor Parish added that there was also pollution in the sea as events  happened from time to time.  In conclusion, Councillor Parish commented that with regard to the capacity at Heacham Treatment Works there was still disbelief when various planning applications were considered.


Councillor Parish commented that in Heacham attempts had been made to try and establish dog poo bins in visible places near and on the beach and was pleased to learn that there was work ongoing to address the issue.


Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Dickinson addressed the Panel and stated that as one of the Ward Councillors for Hunstanton had noticed comments on social media expressing concern on the quality of bathing water in Hunstanton.  With regard to dog waste data, Councillor Dickinson asked how significant was the information and added that up until 5 years ago at Old Hunstanton waste bins had been placed on the beach by the Le Strange but had disappeared pre-Covid and had not been put back.


In response, the Assistant Director, Commercial Services explained that dog bins wold be installed at both Heacham and Hunstanton next season.  The Panel was informed that 184 waste bins were available in the resort and undertook to discuss the provision of waste bins at Old Hunstanton with the Le Strange Estate.


Andrew Raine, Environment Agency responded to questions from the Portfolio Holder Climate Change and Biodiversity in relation to algae.


The Chair, Councillor Dark drew the Panel’s attention to the recommendation to note the update report.  The Chair invited the Panel to consider if they wished to receive a further report in April/May 2024.


Councillor Long commented that a further report to the Panel would be beneficial if there was something different to report.


Councillor Blunt asked if it would be more relevant to be referred to the Environment and Community Panel.


RESOLVED:  That the update report be noted and a discussion be held with the Chair of the Environment and Community Panel to place on forward work programme.


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