Northstowe Phase 3A and 3B
Friends of the Cam fully understands the concerns of the communities of Longstanton, Swavesey and Northstowe with respect to the damage being done to important village buildings, to the drying up of local ponds and other water bodies which must be restored, and to the damage already done to the underlying aquifer and the resulting effects on trees, plants, wildlife and local farm businesses. The damage to local groundwater has been fully documented in the report by HR Wallingford commissioned by South Cambs. District Council (SCDC). It is essential that SCDC, Homes England and the construction companies involved take action now to stop further damage and to rectify the damage already done by ensuring that the water supply to the aquifer is restored, groundwater levels are raised and that, in future, construction methods and rules are put in place to prevent further damage and that these are properly monitored by Building Control.
Looking forward it is also essential that a sustainable source of potable water is secured for Northstowe. The current source is the chalk aquifer which supplies the River Cam. However, the Environment Agency has already written to Cambridge Water to say that current rates of potable water abstraction from the chalk aquifer are too high and must be reduced. Indeed they have indicated that the current abstraction limits, set in the 1960s are too high. Over abstraction is already causing reduced water flow in the chalk stream tributaries of the Cam river basin. These reduced flows are in turn damaging the flora and fauna of the river as well as its character.
Because these issues do not appear to have been properly thought through and addressed by the council and because the council is relying on the law which states that utility companies must meet the demand of approved developments an already unsustainable situation is being made worse. For this reason, Friends of the Cam supported the aims of this judicial review, but note that Fews Lane Consportium have withdrawn its challenge. We await clarification as to why this is the case, but meanwhile still have concerns about Northstowe's impact on the local river systems.