Outrage at ASDA plan to pump sewage into Ferring Rife

A PARISH council was “outraged” after learning retail giant ASDA wants to pump the sewage from its new store into Ferring Rife.

The American-owned firm, which is building a superstore on the old Country Fayre site on the A259 Littlehampton Road at Ferring, has submitted an application to the Environment Agency (EA) for a “sewage treatment plant”. Its creation would see “secondary treated sewage effluent” from the store pumped into a tributary of the Rife at a rate of 36.8 cubic metres, or 36,800 litres, per day.

But the proposal came as a shock to Ferring Parish Council, whose chairman Carole Robertson said they had not received any notification from ASDA and only found out “by pure chance” this week.

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According to the EA website, they only have until Monday (February 13) to lodge any objections.

Carole said: “This has just sneaked up on us. They want a massive number of changes to the store that has been agreed by the planning department. Each on its own doesn’t seem to be that objectionable, necessarily, but it’s a constant raft of them one after another.”

She added: “We are outraged about this. At the very least it should be tertiary sewage, which might just be tolerable when the Rife is full, but when it’s not it will be terrible.

“The potential for this to go wrong is high, because if they don’t maintain the plant properly then they will be putting virtually untreated sewage into the Rife.”

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The parish council only heard about the application when a friend of Ferring Conservation Group secretary Ed Miller spotted it on the website.

Ed said: “They risk polluting a local watercourse in a Site of Local Nature Conservation Importance – full of wildlife from little egrets to bank voles.”

But Oliver Jones, ASDA property communications manager, claimed the plant would not have an adverse effect on the environment.

“The proposed system of discharging treated effluent is a highly-sustainable approach to sewage disposal which is self-contained and avoids the need for increased load on the public sewerage network,” he said.

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“By installing this system, ASDA has undertaken to clean its own sewage. The effluent will be water and will be non-hazardous, non-odorous and it will be clean enough for birds and animals to use without any ill effects.”

ASDA representatives will be at Ferring Village Hall tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday, from 10.30 to 5.30pm, to present details of the changes it is proposing for the store.

A spokeswoman from the EA said a decision on whether the plant could be built would be made by mid-April. To view the application, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk