A RIVER which runs through Basingstoke could be under threat if more houses are built, Basingstoke’s MP has warned.

Maria Miller has told the planning inspector looking into the borough’s local plan that stricter measures are needed to improve the River Loddon, which is failing to meet the legal standards for water quality.

As reported by The Gazette in 2012, statistics showed that phosphate levels in the Loddon were six times higher than the EU Water Directive standard for good status, which has a potentially damaging impact on the local environment.

In her submission to the inspector on water quality, Mrs Miller said that on environmental matters the local plan lacks ambition and focuses only on preventing further deterioration from increased sewage from the high number of new houses planned, rather than looking at how the water quality can be improved.

Under the EU Water Framework Directive, it is a legal requirement to bring the water quality up to a “good” standard.

Mrs Miller said: “The plans to prevent further deterioration in the water quality rely on tightening the environmental permits under which Thames Water operates, particularly for phosphates. But we will not know until 2017 at the earliest whether it is technically feasible to tighten the permits to the levels required.

“This is because there are national trials going on, including at Basingstoke sewage works, to find ways to improve on current technology and techniques.

“I have called for a new Water Quality Monitoring Board to be set up, to include the borough council, the Environment Agency, the water companies and community representatives, to ensure that our river is protected and improved.

“The new board would be able to scrutinise regular monitoring reports of the water quality and, crucially, would be able to review the results of the trials in 2017 and make a recommendation to the council regarding sustainable development.

“The borough council’s policy also needs to include a plan to improve the water quality of the Loddon and include clear and measurable milestone towards taking the river out of being in breach of the Water Framework Directive.”

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