Chichester MP champions the local environment

Chichester MP, Gillian Keegan, recently held a meeting with the new Area Director at the Environment Agency (EA), Mike O'Neill to discuss a range of environmental concerns.

The local MP highlighted her concern with water quality in the Chichester Harbour and the two discussed ongoing monitoring, enforcement and investigations led by the EA.

As the agency responsible for environmental enforcement, the discussions centred around ongoing actions against Southern Water and their preparedness to increase monitoring operations in the area.

This meeting followed another where Gillian joined fellow MPs, Alan Mak (Havant) and Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth South), to raise their concerns with the ongoing storm discharges with the Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow. The trio of MPs are working together to see if there is any immediate action that can be taken by Defra to improve the current situation. Something the Minister agreed to look into further.

During the meeting, the MPs were also briefed on the ongoing work by the Department to tackle this issue nationally with significant work already underway. Including the newly established Storm Overflows Taskforce that has agreed to set a long-term goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows.

Already, they’ve ensured water companies will provide real-time data on sewage discharges and present an annual report to monitor progress in reducing the problem. Furthermore, the much anticipated Environment Bill will bring in ‘Drainage and Sewerage Management Plans’ on a statutory basis to address sewer overflows, with annual reviews and five-year improvement plans. All supported by increased oversight powers allocated to the Secretary of State.

At her meeting with the EA, Gillian also discussed further key issues, including her work on abstraction rates on the River Ems, where the MP is supporting local action led by the Friends of the River Ems and the areas councillors, Mike Magill (WSCC) and Roy Briscoe (CDC). The aim of which is to lessen the quantity of water taken from the river’s source; currently impacting the local ecosystem due to the significantly lowered river levels.

Also, addressed were issues surrounding the Lagoon 3 at Crouchlands Farm near Loxwood, where the MP enquired as to future action planned as the current enforcement notices in place on the potentially dangerous site expire this year. As yet no action has been taken by the responsible party to remedy the situation. Gillian has done significant work on the issue to date; raising the profile of the situation to the highest level of Government and with the local authorities.

After the meeting, Gillian said, “We covered a lot of ground in our initial meeting and I look forward to continuing a close working relationship with the EA. Much of my role, is to bring people together and ensure all the statutory agencies and departments are working together to find solutions. We are facing significant challenges often worsened by the effects of climate change, and I will continue to press ahead to ensure improvements are made.”

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