DEVELOPMENT: Flows must be reviewed

On Wednesday, July 15, I attended the exhibition laid on by Persimmon in Morpeth Town Hall to show the proposed development of two and three-storey houses at Peacock Gap, opposite Leslie’s View.

I asked the gentleman standing in front of the main poster where the sewage from the new development would be discharged. I was told it would be into the main sewer.

I am sure that most people with an interest in flooding in Morpeth will be aware that Northumbrian Water has stated that the sewers in Morpeth are operating over their capacity. They were built to serve Victorian Morpeth (we were told this at the time of the planning meeting on July 17, 2014, for the Fairmoor development).

Apparently, the Persimmon gentleman had also heard of this, but clearly it had temporarily slipped his mind.

Then he stated that Persimmon was in consultation with Northumbrian Water with respect to an alternative strategy.

When pressed, he would not provide details of this “alternative strategy”.

Eventually, he admitted that, if worst came to worst, they would build a sewage treatment plant at the southern end of the site (a nice view from the flats there), and discharge yet more treated sewage into the Cotting Burn.

So this new development when it happens will take the new houses discharging into the Cotting Burn catchment to about 400.

Allowing for at least two people per house x 125 litres per day each of sewage = 100 tonnes of treated sewage per day going into the burn: an additional ‘liquid’ input of 36,500 tonnes per year.

As well as the increased flood risk (now from treated sewage not just rainwater), I leave you to imagine the smell down the burn at the height of summer.

As to surface run-off, the Persimmon gentleman talked about SUD (Sustainable Drainage) ponds and that, despite concreting over a green field surface, the run-off into the burn would be reduced.

Think about it. A fundamental, unbreakable law of our universe is that matter cannot be created or destroyed, something that Persimmon seems not to accept.

If rain falls it must end up somewhere.

When rain falls on a green field, it will percolate slowly down through the soil into the burn.

However, in the kind of storms we have had of late, the amount of rain falling on a SUD pond, which is just a hole in the ground already partly filled by soil and grass, will fill it to overflowing unbelievably quickly, the rest falling on concrete, which will run straight and fast into the burn, and mostly downstream of the proposed dam.

Bear in mind the new houses proposed at Fairmoor and on the Northgate hospital site, which will be discharging treated sewage into the burn along with surface run-off, and the run-off from the new bypass also into the burn.

Needless to say, the design of the new dam does not take into account these new developments, it is based only on existing rainfall.

I thus challenge Northumberland County Council and the Environment Agency to remodel the flows into the burn from the four new developments, including the six SUD ponds, and the proposed run-off from the bypass, and to make their findings public before any further permissions are granted.

Otherwise they will be wasting the money they are going to spend on the dam, and those of us downstream will be damned to further flooding.

We have new houses being built to the south of Morpeth, new houses proposed for the Cottage Hospital site and adjacent to Lancaster Park, as well as those mentioned above.

Has anyone asked the GP surgeries if they have the capacity to cope with this massive increase in the population of the town, or the schools? Bear in mind that KEVI turns children away every year from the catchment as it has filled its quota.

Can you image the traffic jams in Morpeth once all the proposed houses are built?

We only have two bridges into the town.

Do you remember when they imposed the traffic lights on the bridge — a relatively (on the face of it) insignificant change to traffic flows that led to utter chaos?

I believe it is time to remind NCC that its duty is to back the people it is supposed to represent and to protect the elderly, sick and vulnerable.

Or actually, to shout it at the top of our collective voice. Wake up Morpeth!

When they come up for renewal, how about changing all your direct debit and standing order payments for council tax to cash or cheque? Whilst this may be a little inconvenient for us, I suspect this would get the message across to Northumberland County Council very rapidly, and it is perfectly legal.

And how about making our feelings known courteously and politely to prospective buyers of these new houses, with placards in adjacent gardens pointing out the effect these developments will have on waiting lists, access to essential services, schools etc?

The new folk should realise what problems they will also be facing should they move into the new developments, rather than the many, unsold homes that are available in the town, including some in the current ‘new’ developments.

If we continue to do nothing, then don’t fall ill in Morpeth, don’t get old in Morpeth, don’t have children in Morpeth.

And to those of us living near the Burn, in Copper Chare and especially Butcher’s Lonnen and Dawson Place, when the storms come again, as they surely will, close the curtains and pray.

Paul Christensen,

Copper Chare