Letter to the Editor: I was extremely interested to read the report: “Over 1,000 sewage overflows last year”, in The Forester.

The report does indeed make alarming reading. At a time when so much  is talked of in the way of protecting our natural environment and protecting species from all forms of pollution, it is a matter of great concern that the reported incidents are allowed to continue. I am intensely concerned that this current state of affairs will only continue to worsen over the coming years.

As a member of the Forest of Dean District Council Development Committee (Planning Committee), I have expressed concerns on many occasions that development of new housing on sites in settlements where there is already records of discharge of raw sewage is allowed to continue.

Applications for new housing developments are submitted to Severn Trent as a Statutory Consultee by the FoDDC, during my time as a committee member, I cannot recall one instance where Severn Trent has raised any form of objection to new housing development. This being the case, councillors sitting on the Development Committee have no grounds to refuse an application that more housing development will exasperate an already atrocious situation. Is it not time that the Government, rather than relaxing the legislation on License to Discharge (permitting the release of raw sewage into a natural watercourse), issued by the Environment Department, the Government should be insisting that higher standards are applied, that our natural water courses should be restored to the highest standards of water quality, thereby providing the very best habitat for wildlife.

The Government should take heed and enact far stricter controls upon all of Britain’s water companies, before too many of our watercourses become nothing better than open sewers. The Victorians had the good sense to rectify this appalling situation in the 1800s, surely it is not beyond the capabilities of our present government to enact the necessary legislation and insist that water companies invest in new infrastructure to prevent this disastrous pollution taking place.

 I do not deny, that there is a need for new housing development, but surely not with such disastrous consequences to the environment.

Cllr Simon Phelps, (Ind), Forest of Dean District Council, Westbury