In response to the Chairman’s letter of 16 November to Environment Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, Environment Agency officials have written separately confirming that it remains committed to its plans to review the permits of waste-water treatment works discharging into the Solent and Southampton Water in line with the 2024 price review (PR24) requirements.
The response, from an Environment Agency official, read:
“I can confirm that we remain committed to our plans to review the permits of Solent and Southampton Water in line with the 2024 price review (PR24) requirements which now include the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB) requirements for nutrient pollution reduction. These requirements place a statutory duty on water and sewerage companies in England to upgrade wastewater treatment works to the highest technical achievable limits (TAL) by 2030 in nutrient neutrality areas.
The current permit limits of wastewater treatment works have been assessed at a waterbody scale. Natural England determined that this scale was not protective enough for the sensitive features around the Solent. Southern Water are therefore required to build new models to assess the impacts of wastewater treatment works at the feature scale that NE require in PR24. Until the models are built we cannot assess permits at the required feature scale as our current models work at a different (waterbody) scale. This requirement for new feature scale models is also required at other sites around the country, where Natural England has evidence that it is required.
While these new models are being built we will continue to make use of the existing environmental permitting regulations to monitor compliance with permit limits. We will continue to take appropriate enforcement action if a permit limit is breached.”