Wastewater NPS in need of overhaul

The proposed national policy statement on wastewater needs major improvements, according to MPs

The environment department (DEFRA) must “radically improve” its proposed national policy statement (NPS) on wastewater, according to a report by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee published in April.1

The draft NPS, consulted on last year, sets out how the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) should consider planning applications for major sewage works (ENDS Report, November 2010).

Its aim is to make it easier for Thames Water to get planning permission for its proposed ‘super sewer’ and for a new treatment works in Deephams, north London.

The NPS contains sections on these two projects and says the IPC should assume that there is a need for both.

But the committee says the sections should be removed. “The NPS should be a generic document, applicable to all projects”, it says.

The NPS can set out why these projects would be needed on environmental grounds without referring to them specifically, it adds.

The current NPS is also “woefully short on detail” in many areas.

It should contain more information on how the IPC should consider issues such as odour, visual impact and greenhouse gas emissions from treatment processes, say the MPs.

For example, the current draft says plant should be “as aesthetically pleasing as possible”, which leaves scope for various interpretations.