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Conservation concern as wastewater overflows into Forest stream

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The wastewater was spotted in the Beaulieu River where it flows near Lyndhurst
The wastewater was spotted in the Beaulieu River where it flows near Lyndhurst

A CONSERVATION group has raised concerns after waste water overflowed from a Southern Water facility into a stream near Lyndhurst.

Effluent was seen by Russell Wynn, one of the founders of Wild New Forest, near Lyndhurst waste water treatment works, off the A35, after heavy rain last Wednesday.

Mr Wynn told the A&T he had been walking through Mallard Wood towards the upper Beaulieu River when he noticed the “distinctive and unpleasant” smell of effluent.

Southern Water admitted that “heavily-diluted” wastewater had gone into the river but insisted it was within permitted levels.

Mr Wynn explained: “When I arrived at the riverbank, the flow was fast and a dirty brown colour, with an oily slick visible at the surface in places.”

He returned three days later to look for evidence of any lingering pollution once the water had subsided.

He said: “The area immediately downstream of the works still had a detectable smell of effluent and there were several areas upstream of debris dams where a surface slick was present on the water surface.

“Parts of this stretch were restored to a meandering course a few years ago and as a consequence there were a few bankside pools where over spilling floodwaters had been trapped.

“These will presumably trap and concentrate any surface pollutants, which is concerning when they often attract livestock and other fauna to drink.”

He added: “It is worth noting here that the Beaulieu River is part of the New Forest SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and in theory, should be one of the most protected rivers in Europe on account of the New Forest’s status as a Ramsar site, Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area.

“It’s obviously also an important tourist destination, especially this year, with lots of visitors paddling in the apparently pristine rivers and streams.”

A Southern Water spokesperson told the A&T: “As a result of the heavy rainfall in Hampshire recently stormwater releases – heavily-diluted screened and settled wastewater including rainwater and road run-off – were discharged from our Lyndhurst wastewater treatment works on August 19th and 20th.

“These releases were within the Environment Agency permitted consent of the site.”

Wild New Forest, which was formed in 2016, also aims to inspire others to discover and protect the area.

Mr Wynn told the A&T that although the group has limited capacity for campaigning work, it would continue to push for independent monitoring of local waste water treatment plants.

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