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Baildon man's plea for help in sewage ordeal
9:00am Wednesday 20th March 2013 in News
A retired member of the RAF is demanding action after he discovered sewage water flowing through a beck in his garden.
Peter Roberts spent almost four years fortnightly clearing debris from the water before he learned that he could be shifting diluted sewage.
“It wasn’t until last year that a neighbour stopped me and asked me if I knew what I had in there,” he said.
“I said, ‘smelly old sludge and slurry’ and she said it was sewage. Nobody told us when we came here.”
Closer inspection of the grime he had collected confirmed it was “items that are definitely put down the toilet”.
Mr Roberts said since he moved to his Baildon home four years ago he has had health problems, including skin conditions, chest infections and two carcinomas, which he had not had before. His doctor has told him to stop clearing the beck, but he says no one else will take responsibility for it.
Now he plans to approach one of the MEPs for Yorkshire and The Humber to take his concerns to Europe.
Barnsley Beck passes through the gardens of houses on Whitelands Road and in the grounds of Mr Roberts’ home in Station Road.
Yorkshire Water has Environment Agency permission to use the beck to release “screened sewage” into the beck during storm conditions.
A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said any water released in such conditions as part of a combined sewer overflow (CSO) system would mostly be rainwater. “It’s a vital part of any sewerage system and is used right across the country, but they don’t operate on a regular basis.,” he said. “In an ideal world CSOs would not operate at all, but they are needed.”
The spokesman said having no CSOs could lead to sewage backing up into homes and manholes and that the system was strictly monitored.
A Yorkshire Water letter sent to Mr Roberts via Shipley MP Philip Davies said cleaning the beck was the responsibility of the landowner.
But Mr Roberts spoke to the Environment Agency in December about his concerns and was visited by two officers who commented on the smell and water levels and advised him to stay out of the beck and instead contact Yorkshire Water. “No-one will take responsibility,” Mr Roberts said.
Rita Reid, an Environment Agency team leader, said: “Yorkshire Water have now done an underground camera survey in the area, and we understand they haven’t found any problems. We are continuing to investigate and will be in touch with Mr Roberts soon.”