Agenda and minutes

Environment Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 29 November 2023 6.00 pm

Venue: Third Floor, Southwater One, Southwater Square, Southwater Way, Telford, TF3 4JG

Contact: Sam Yarnall  01952 382193

No. Item


Declarations Of Interest




Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meetings held on 28 February 2023 and 14 September 2023.

Additional documents:


RESOLVED – that the minutes of the meeting held on 28 February 2023 and 14 September 2023 be confirmed and signed by the Chair.


Biodiversity Net Gain pdf icon PDF 283 KB

To receive an update on Biodiversity Net Gain.


The Development Management Service Delivery Manager and Director: Prosperity & Investment provided a summary of the report to the Committee.


Members were informed that updated guidance on Biodiversity Net Gain had been provided by Central Government and Members would receive a further update at the meeting at the February 2024 meeting.


Members were informed that the changes in legislation would need to be reflected in the planning permission process in terms of both applications and decisions made by the Council’s Planning Committee. There would also be a minimum requirement of 10% biodiversity net gain on applications and public bodies such as the local authority would have enforcement powers in response to this. Members were informed that these would be enforced by the Office for Environmental Protection and that there would be additional support from Government to cover any burdens.


Members were provided with an update on the work on the Local Nature Recovery Strategy as part of Biodiversity Net Gain. This work was in partnership with other organisations and local authorities with Shropshire Council acting as the lead authority. The strategy was said to promote the protection and the improvement of local habitats. There were no powers of enforcement on the applicant to comply with this, but there were positive nature solutions that would be fed back into the local plan.


Members were informed that the strategy aimed to leave the environment in a measurably better state than prior to development and that the Council would be the lead on the urban aspects of the strategy. From January 2024, it was heard that Biodiversity Net Gain would be applicable across major sites and from April 2024 it would be applicable across smaller sites. A further update would be provided to Members in the February 2024 meeting to discuss further guidance and implementation of the policy from Central Government.


This would result in further impact on planning permission and the use of S106 monies on future developments. The policy was currently being tested against the local plan with projects like the Grassland pilot to develop guidance and means of identifying compensation and mitigation methods with future developments. The policy required sites to be monitored and maintained for a minimum of 30 years as a duty of all public bodies. Members were informed that the policies and sites would need to be reviewed every 5 years.


Following the presentation, Members posed the following questions and statements.


If an application had been approved, could the policy be applied to those that are not meeting the 10% biodiversity net gains once the policy comes into effect?


Unfortunately, once the application had been approved the legislation could not be enforced due to it being after the application of the policy. However, locally, applications reviewed before the legislation had a net neutral agreement as part of the local plan. Ongoing planning applications and developments had conditions on delivery as part of the s106 agreement.


Could applications be rejected if they did not meet the Net Gain?


Applications  ...  view the full minutes text for item ENVSC15


River Pollution

To receive a presentation from Severn Trent and the Environment Agency on river pollution.

Additional documents:


Members received a presentation from representatives of the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water respectively to discuss river pollution. The presentation summarised the ways in which river pollution was being monitored and controlled through the use of the Combined Sewer Overflow system (CSO). There were a number of these systems across the Borough that operate under high rainfall conditions. The presentation highlighted public concerns received regarding the levels of river pollution in the Borough. Members were informed that the misuse of CSOs was one of the contributing factors for increased river pollution. Members were informed that the most common cause for river pollution was due to leaking and blocked sewers that overflow the CSO and therefore does not allow the system to filter the sewage correctly.


Water companies were responsible for the monitoring, instillation and maintenance of CSOs when there were reported issues. Members were informed that the Environment Agency worked in partnership with the Council and water companies to make sure that the environment was being protected such as a recent £600K investment in improving the local rivers. The ‘Love your rivers Telford’ investment in 2018 saw a focus on improving local water courses in Telford which sought improvement in waste disposal as well as support with enforcement of recently introduced regulations.


Members were informed of the new regulations that apply to water companies such as Severn Trent. These regulations from the Environment Agency made it a requirement for monitoring of CSOs and to publish figures online. Members were also informed of the ongoing audit of water companies by the Environment Agency and that the focus of this was to share information on the work that was being conducted.


The presentation summarised the overall picture in Telford with 105 incidents of pollution being reported as a result of misconnections. Following this, Members were informed of the 24/7 hotline which members of the public could use to report pollution. Representatives from both the Environment Agency and Severn Trent asked Members to speak to their communities and work with them to better the experience in Telford and Wrekin.


Following the presentation, Members posed the following questions.


Were there any sewer maps that highlighted which drainage systems were used in particular buildings?


A representative from Severn Trent explained that there were sewer maps that outlined this, but they were complex. Members of the public could apply to see the sewer maps but highlighted that they would need to be specific areas to highlight the exact networks as they were interconnected.


When monitoring the levels of pollution what were the points of impact?


The Environment Agency explained that the responsibility for monitoring fell to the water companies but each monitor had different levels and when levels of pollution were at a certain point, the stations responsible would engage to reduce the levels.


What were the responsibilities of Severn Trent on isolated water courses and building development?


Representatives from both the Environment Agency and Severn Trent explained that the role was to report the  ...  view the full minutes text for item ENVSC16


Work Programme Review pdf icon PDF 270 KB

To review the updated work programme for the Environment Scrutiny Committee.


The Democracy Officer (Scrutiny) presented the updated Environment Scrutiny Committee work programme to Members. This provided an overview on items scheduled for the remainder of the municipal year as well as a summary of the outcomes from the work that the Committee had completed. This included an update of the work of Climate Change Adaptation whereby an officer briefing would be presented, followed by an all elected member briefing as well as a workshop for the Environment Scrutiny Members to provide comment before the plan would be formally presented to Cabinet in April 2024.



Chair's Update


The Chair informed Members that the next meeting of the Committee would be scheduled for 6 February 2024.