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Richmond slams Hillingdon for sewage dumping plans

18 March 2024

Richmond Council has condemned proposals for treated effluent to be dumped in the River Crane, risking the water quality of the river and the Local Nature Reserve which is home to endangered water voles and critically endangered European eels.

Hillingdon Council has applied to the Environment Agency for a licence to discharge treated sewage into the Crane from a cafe at Cranford Park. Richmond Council has submitted an objection to the application setting out the devastating impact it could have on the local environment, wildlife and on the community-led river restoration work which has been running for over 10 years.
Councillor Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, has said:
"This proposal from our west London neighbour will cause unthinkable damage to the River Crane Corridor, which is a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and home to a nature reserve at Crane Park Island. 
"Richmond Council has deep concerns about the impact this could have on the river and the species that call it home. It is one of the few catchments in the country with no licenced sewage discharges, which is reflected in the environmental quality of the water, although it has taken considerable time and effort to get the condition to its current standard following a discharge incident nearly 13 years ago. Approval of Hillingdon's proposal would see systematic degradation of the river for years to come."
The Lower River Crane, which starts in Twickenham where the river splits into two channels and flows into the Thames, is made up of a variety of habitats including river and marginal wetland, open grassland and heath, woodland and scrub. These support a range of species including seven species of bat, water voles, kingfishers, European eels, tawny owls and many more key native plants and animals.

European eels are listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species and are a species of principle importance for the purpose of conserving of biodiversity under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.
Richmond Council is collaborating with the Environment Agency, Friends of the River Crane Environment (FORCE), ZSL and other partners to deliver a long-term river restoration and enhancement scheme on the Lower Crane which will remove barriers to fish migration and create suitable breeding habitats further up in the catchment. 
Councillor Roberts added: "Richmond Council, along with its Richmond Biodiversity partners, fights hard to protect the natural habitats and species we are privileged to live alongside in Richmond upon Thames. We are home to the largest number of green and blue open spaces in any London borough and we take guardianship of these seriously. The restoration and enhancement work on the River Crane has required an extraordinary input of public, private and voluntary resources over many years and we will not see this part of the river threatened by the dumping of sewage upstream."
Find out more about the Lower River Crane Restoration.

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Up to: March 2024

Updated: 18 March 2024

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