LETTER: Concern for public safety issues

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Having been a doctor in Southwater for the best part of 40 years I am personally extremely concerned that there are aspects of public safety which are not being given sufficient weight in regard to Berkeley Homes’ outline planning application for a further 643 houses in Southwater.

1. The risks of anthrax in the human population if the field to the east of Great House Farm is disturbed.

There can be no dispute concerning the fact that there was an outbreak of anthrax and that cows on the farm died and were buried in this field.

The contemporary veterinary and police maps, always lodged with every outbreak, have all been destroyed so the exact location of the burial site remains unknown. In any event anthrax spores are transported by water within the soil so may be found distant from the burial site. The whole field is potentially a source of infection.

However you try and quantify this risk, the risk can never be zero. I dispute the right of either Berkeley’s or Horsham District Council to impose that risk on the village when it can so easily be avoided by leaving that field alone.

If building were to be permitted upon this field, it is essential that all potential purchasers are explicitly made aware of the risk. The only way this can be ensured is to make it a condition that it is mentioned specifically in the deeds of all houses that are sold in that field.

2. The risk to public health from recurrently overflowing sewage in a number of areas within the village.

The evidence that has recently come to light is quite clear and shocking.

The sewerage system has been chronically inadequate for a substantial number of years. This is no longer in dispute and is acknowledged by Southern Water.

Yet Horsham District Council, the planning authority, has not acted upon significant warnings of inadequate sewerage capacity from Southern Water in the past and have permitted further development.

Southern Water has not made any attempt to fundamentally improve the system.

BOTH organisations stand accused of an inadequate approach to these problems which are current and shamefully impacting on the lives of residents.

For the safety of everyone NO further building must be allowed to add load to the Southwater sewerage system until the whole system has been properly uprated and the current problems have been shown to have been put right.

3. The additional risks imposed upon the population of Southwater by the unacceptably poor performance of the ambulance service must be corrected BEFORE further building goes ahead.

For at least the last four years South East Coast Ambulance service has been unable, in Southwater, to get anywhere near the Government target of reaching 75 per cent of real life and death emergencies within eight minutes. It averages well less than 50 per cent and there is no improvement in recent figures.

We in Southwater have to accept a geographical distance between us and our acute hospitals. So we do, but with every development the traffic congestion grows and the ability of the ambulances to reach their attendance target and then to get those whose need is acute to the correct hospital unit within the golden first hour after heart attacks and strokes is further impaired. As it stands NOW outcomes will be worse in Southwater and lives WILL be lost that would not be lost elsewhere.

This is essential infrastructure. Until this is rectified and until the ambulance service has demonstrated a real improvement in their response times no further development should be allowed in the village.

Dr IAN THWAITES

Keep Southwater Green, Marlhurst, Southwater