Save Longstanton's ponds and Cambridgeshire's chalk streams

by Fews Lane Consortium

Save Longstanton's ponds and Cambridgeshire's chalk streams

by Fews Lane Consortium
Fews Lane Consortium
Case Owner
We’re a local advocacy group fighting for sustainable outcomes in planning and environmental decisions and promoting high standards of accountability in local government.
7
days to go
£17,555
pledged of £26,000 stretch target from 610 pledges
Pledge now
Fews Lane Consortium
Case Owner
We’re a local advocacy group fighting for sustainable outcomes in planning and environmental decisions and promoting high standards of accountability in local government.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: June 21, 2022

High Court grants permission for judicial review on all grounds

On Monday, 20 June, the High Court granted permission for judicial review on all grounds of our claim against South Cambridgeshire District Council challenging its decision to approve the development…

Read more

The Case

We are challenging the recent decision to grant planning permission for 4,000 houses at Northstowe Phase 3A after the decision failed to consider impacts of the development on groundwater as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment.

There are two different aquifers affected by the proposed development: the Cam chalk aquifer, which feeds the River Cam and its chalk stream tributaries, and the Longstanton gravel aquifer, which feeds the groundwater-fed ponds in Northstowe and the neighbouring village of Longstanton.


Cam chalk aquifer

The tributaries of the River Cam are chalk streams. These now have reduced flow, particularly in dry weather, and are gradually drying up. Why? Because too much water is being abstracted from the chalk aquifer that supplies them. The cold, clear, mineral-rich waters of healthy chalk streams support a diverse ecosystem rich in fish and invertebrates, which are excellent food sources for birds, mammals, and amphibians.

The protection of chalk streams is an international issue as well as a local one because 80% of the world’s chalk streams are in southern England. The threat to their survival is mirrored in catchments across the region.

Anglian Water, which is responsible for supplying water to the development at Northstowe, has said it will buy water in bulk from Cambridge Water. However, Cambridge Water, which abstracts all of its water from the Cam chalk aquifer, cannot supply the required water without causing unacceptable environmental harm to the aquifer and the chalk streams it supports.

The Environment Agency has calculated that Cambridge Water needs to make abstraction reductions of 22 million litres per day. Supplying Northstowe will instead add approximately 2 million litres per day to current levels of abstraction.

The River Granta is one of the chalk stream tributaries of the River Cam.

The River Rhee and River Granta, tributaries of the River Cam, are already in a desperate state and regularly supported by artificial augmentation. Abstracting more water from the Cam chalk aquifer will only make this situation worse.


Longstanton gravel aquifer

Recently, in the lovely old church in Longstanton, we shared our grief about the recent occurrence in the village of dried-up ponds, dead fish, dying trees and hedgerows, subsiding gardens and cracked and subsiding buildings, including the church. Why? The development of Northstowe has lowered the groundwater table, damaged the underlying aquifer, emptied the nearby village ponds and dried out the ground in the village and its surroundings.

It was just after the building of Northstowe commenced that the beautiful Kingfisher Pond had disappeared, together with all its kingfishers, its frogs, toads and other wildlife.

A report from national water experts HR Wallingford found that the development of Northstowe is responsible for the drop in groundwater levels in the gravel aquifer, and the developer of Phase 3A admits that a further drop in groundwater of 2 to 3 metres is expected. 

The loss of all water from the village's ponds, including Ladywalk Pond (shown above), has been described as "not significant" by South Cambridgeshire District Council.

On the basis of that assessment, the council decided not to consider the effects on local groundwater as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment, and as a result, key environmental information was not considered as part of the decision-making process.


Our Goal - Our first goal is to raise £5,000 to help cover the legal expenses associated with issuing the claim in the High Court. We then need to raise an additional £20,000 - £30,000 to cover legal expenses associated with a substantive hearing.


The legal team

We have engaged a highly experienced team of environmental lawyers  to request a judicial review of the Northstowe Phase 3A decision. 

Susan Ring, of Hodge Jones & Allen, is a solicitor advocate who has worked in environmental law since 1997. She has fought, and won, many important cases including judicial reviews concerning planning law and environmental impact assessments.

Jenny Wigley QC, of Landmark Chambers, appears regularly in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court in judicial review and statutory review claims including those related to adequate consultation, legitimate expectation, heritage, Habitats Regulations, EIA, SEA, air quality, S. 106 obligations, and conditions.


Please help if you can.

THANK YOU!


Second photo © John Sutton (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Update 3

Fews Lane Consortium

June 21, 2022

High Court grants permission for judicial review on all grounds

On Monday, 20 June, the High Court granted permission for judicial review on all grounds of our claim against South Cambridgeshire District Council challenging its decision to approve the development of 4,000 houses at Northstowe Phase 3A without taking into account the impacts on Cambridgeshire's chalk streams and on local ponds and wetland habitats. 

This means that the court has decided that our claim is arguable and that we should have at least a day and a half to present our evidence and arguments. The hearing will be held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London later this year. 

But in order to do this, we need to keep up the fundraising! Please share via email and social media to keep the momentum building.

A public meeting to provide an update on the legal action and to seek community input in our campaign for environmental justice for the communities of Northstowe and Longstanton will be held at All Saints' Church in Longstanton on Friday, 24 June, at 7pm. All are welcome to attend.
Update 2

Fews Lane Consortium

June 19, 2022

Investigations reveal industrial scale unlicensed abstraction at Northstowe

Investigations have revealed that the unplanned water feature at Northstowe, referred to by local residents as the "semi-permanent flood", is apparently being fed with groundwater unlawfully abstracted from Longstanton's gravel aquifer.


The Northstowe "semi-permanent flood" (left) photographed on 12 June 2022, after more than six months of unusually dry weather. The planned attenuation pond (right) also appears to be fed by unlicensed groundwater.


The local planning authority's planning committee was not informed of the existence of this unplanned water feature prior to deciding that the cumulative impacts of all phases of the development on flood risk, drainage, and groundwater were "not significant" for the purposes of the Environmental Impact Assessment.

Furthermore, no site visit was conducted by the local planning authority prior to granting planning permission for 4,000 houses at Phase 3A. According to a number of professional planners, not conducting a site visit prior to granting permission for a development of this scale is highly unusual.

Questions have been raised about who advised the planning committee not to undertake a site visit and whether those advising the planning committee were aware of the existence of the "semi-permanent flood".

Fews Lane Consortium has written to ask the Environment Agency to investigate the water resource offences that have apparently been committed at the Northstowe site.

Update 1

Fews Lane Consortium

June 3, 2022

Nearly half way to goal!

In only 10 days, we're nearly half way to our goal of £5,000!

Thank you so much to everyone for the support with the campaign.

We need to keep the momentum building!

If you haven't already done so, please forward the Crowd Justice link (https://www.crowdjustice.com/northstowe/) to your family, friends and social network, letting them know that we're well on the way towards meeting our goal but still need further help getting the word out.

If everyone who has donated so far could ask two other people to consider giving and sharing on social media, we'll keep the momentum growing.

Thanks so much to everyone for your support!

Daniel Fulton

for Fews Lane Consortium

    There are no public comments on this case page.