The Trust, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Southern Water, The Wessex Rivers Trust County Councillor Nick Adams-King and Borough Councillors Terese Swain and Phil Bundy all attended the meeting. The pollution has severely impacted wildlife in the area, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). In the meeting, those present discussed the current clean-up operation and how to prevent future similar incidents from polluting our precious rivers. The pace of the current clean-up and how to speed this up were also covered.
Currently, work has been done to intercept fuel before it reaches the sewer network and to prevent it from reaching the river. Residual oil is being skimmed from the sewer downstream and a series of booms, pads and skimmers have been placed in the outfall and watercourse. The oil which has been removed will be treated in a new, temporary oil separation facility to speed up the cleaning process.
Southern Water will review surface drainage at the Nursling Estate to better understand the full picture, which also includes run-off from the motorway and railway nearby. They will also line a length of sewer pipe to further reduce the risk of fuel leaching into the sewer system from the surrounding area as soon as is possible.
The Trust are grateful to Caroline Noakes MP for hosting this event and we welcome the roundtable discussion. We were pleased to see a commitment from all parties to a rapid and thorough clean-up as well as a root and branch review to address the causes of the pollution and to stop this from happening again. Our primary concern is for the sensitive wildlife and habitats on our nature reserve and surrounding area. It is vital that we stop treating our rivers as dumping grounds and instead focus on facilitating their recovery. A quick and efficient clean-up operation and mitigation measures to put right the damage to wildlife and habitats, is key to this in the River Test. It is also vital that the long-term measures discussed at the roundtable are implemented to ensure this never happens again.