Charlie Hopkins
Planning and environmental consultant

Portobello Public Inquiry: Brighton, October 1999-February 2000

Sea on the shore

Charlie was instructed to act and appear at a 3 month long Public Inquiry near Brighton on behalf of an umbrella group of objectors to a proposal by Southern Water to construct a £60 million sewage treatment works on the seashore at Peacehaven.

The Campaign for Residents Against Portobello (CRAP) consisted of 13 local residents associations, town councils, preservation societies as well as FoE Brighton, Brighton Surfers Against Sewage and the CPRE.

The proposal by Southern Water involved the excavation of a section of chalk cliffs and the construction of an 11ha marine platform, upon which would be sited a sewage treatment works to serve the population of Brighton and Hove. The project would take some 3 years to construct prior to being brought into commission. Objections to the proposed scheme were broad and far-ranging. The cliffs and foreshore are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), bordering on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), now the South Downs National Park. There would be adverse environmental impacts on the landscape and nature conservation interests, in terms of increased traffic, noise, odour, and local amenity. The development could fail to satisfy the requirements of the EU Bathing Waters Directive and the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. Alternative sites had been inadequately assessed, higher levels of treatment had not been considered and the proposed development was not the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO).

In February 2001, the Secretary of State refused to grant Southern Water's appeal.