Neighbourhood Plan
Environment, landscape and farming

These pages carry reports of the progress of the individual Focus Groups in the development of a Neighbourhood Plan.

We will keep you informed through these pages of developments and information as the project develops.

Please visit these pages regularly to see how the Piddle Valley Community can have its say in shaping the future of the Valley and how it will affect you.

This group is led by Peter Chance Tel: 01300 348311


News Letter No 13 - 01/03/15
Sewerage and Flooding

Many thanks to those residents who completed and returned the Sewage and Flooding questionnaires, the information received was most helpful.

The following is a summary of a meeting held on Saturday 31st January 2015 with Oliver Letwin MP, representatives of Wessex Water, the Piddle Valley Parish Council and the Piddle Valley Neighbourhood Plan Working Group in order to find solutions to the sewage problems within the catchment area of the Piddle Valley Parish Council. The hamlet of Plush has no public sewer.

The main sewer was built in 1973 and terminates at the sewage works south of Piddlehinton. For nine months of the year the sewer operates without problems and is well within its overall capacity. The difficulties arise during the very wet winter months when some years there has been continuous heavy rain.

The sewage problems are due in the main to the leakage of ground water into the sewer. This occurs only when the level of the water table rises above that of the sewer. Ground water seeps into the sewer through cracks and open joints in the sewer pipe walls and through cracks around manhole sections and covers. This permeability of the sewer accounts for about 80-90% of the ingress. The remaining 10--20% is due to 'sewer abuse', that is the lifting of manhole covers by residents to prevent ground water endangering properties, but the true impact of this is not known.

The main sewer was inspected in 2008 resulting in some sealing using a 'gel system'. This has deteriorated faster than anticipated and is becoming ineffective. The system has been replaced by Wessex Water who are now re-lining the sewer with an epoxy resin on a continuing basis where leaks occur which proved a permanent solution.

After a meeting of the Piddle Valley Parish Council with Wessex Water in 2008, three options were considered:

A. To install three pumping stations to take dilute sewage from the sewer, screen (coarse filter) it and pump it into the river. These are now only allowed by the Environment Agency in exceptional circumstances (due to EU legislation) and on a temporary basis - but presumably will remain as long as there is not a problem with the quality of water within the river.

B. To construct a new sewer from Alton Pancras, to the sewage treatment plant just below Enterprise Park to the south. (The treatment plant was constructed in approximately 1940, much earlier than the sewer, to cope with sewage from the army camp.) This would cost £4m-£5m, excluding the treatment plant upgrade costs.

C. Sealing private laterals.

The plan adopted in 2008, was a combination of options A and C. However, only two pumping stations were installed, at Rivendell (between The Poachers and the Manor House) and behind the Piddle Inn.

Normally the pumps only pump extremely dilute sewage into the river when the water table is very high and the sewer fills with ground water. Last summer a blockage occurred which started the pump at Rivendell which pumped raw sewage into the river. The problem was swiftly cured and the river cleaned. Telemetry has since been installed to prevent a further occurrence.

For several months during the winters of 2012/2013 and 2013/14 tankers had to pump out sewage from several locations in the main valley sewer many times a day in order to keep the toilets operating in some properties.

Due to the extremely wet winter, an additional temporary pump was installed for a few months in 2013/14 in Church Lane, Piddletrenthide. There was an apparent lack of screen (filter), which is being investigated.

The main sewer in Piddlehinton was surveyed in 2011 and was found to be in good condition with little or no infiltration.

From 2011 to the present day CCTV surveys and sealing and lining works have been carried out to the Piddle Valley sewers. The last survey was carried out week commencing 2nd February 2015. From this survey Wessex Water will seal all serious leaks during 2015-2016.

It was agreed at the meeting that Wessex Water would keep the Parish Council informed of the already completed and proposed works to include marked up drawings. Wessex Water would also consider other proposals to cure the problems that the Valley experiences during wet winters. Full notes of the meeting are available on this website and the noticeboards. Also a copy of the Wessex Water Inflow Management Plan for the Piddle Valley has been received, and available via this website. It should be noted that due to time restraints the meeting focused on the sewage situation; a further meeting to discuss flooding is being arranged with Oliver Letwin, the Environment Agency and the Parish Council is being organised.

First Consultation of Draft Piddle Valley Neighbourhood Plan.

Saturday 25th April 2015

10 am-4 pm

Piddle Valley First School, Piddletrenthide

News Letter No 12 - 01/01/15

At the Piddletrenthide village meeting on 27th November, residents voiced overwhelming concern about both the sewage system backing up and flooding in the village. Whilst the Environment Agency does publish a map of flood risk zones the information is largely worked out by computer and may not reflect the real situation.

As a consequence, the Working Group decided to send you a further questionnaire (included with the JAnuary is issue of News & Views and also available via the links at the bottom of this newsletter) to seek information from all valley residents about these important issues. This detailed information would be beneficial both for future development planning in the Neighbourhood Plan and for residents in order to work together to try to resolve immediate problems. This information can only come from those who live with the problems.

Subsequent to that meeting, a member of the Working Group contacted Wessex Water, and their query and Wessex Water's response is reproduced below. We have also requested a copy of Wessex Waters Operational Management Action Plan.

We are acutely aware of the sensitive nature of this topic to residents, however we believe it is a genuine issue, and hope residents respond with as much information as possible.

If you have any such knowledge, please would you complete the questionnaire, marking locations on the map, and sending any photographs or other documents you may have by the 16th January to PVNV Postbag at Piddletrenthide Post Office & Stores.

If you would prefer to forward the questionnaire and supporting information by email, then please send to

1 Neighbourhood Plan Working Group Query to Wessex Water, 28th November 2014 :

It is now some 11 months since my last communication, and with winter approaching I would like to know what works have been carried out in Piddletrenthide since the winter of 2013/2014 to mitigate the overflowing of the sewers, which has occurred here in the last two winters, necessitating the use of road tankers to remove the overflowing sewage.

2 Wessex Water Response, 8th December 2014

Thank you for your email of 28th November about our flood prevention work in Piddletrenthide. Since the construction of the combined sewer overflows in 2011, we are required to report to the Environment Agency on an annual basis and have continued to deliver an Inflow Management Plan. As part of this plan, we monitor the water quality in the receiving watercourse to confirm there is no detriment to the water quality from the screened overflows. This year we have recorded groundwater levels, sewer levels and water quality to monitor the performance of the sewerage system. We have carried out further sealing works where groundwater infiltration has been identified.

WS Atkins, acting as our consultants, are carrying out further modelling of the system to review the performance of the current overflows and identify possible locations for additional overflows which would relieve the system and provide further protection. This is in the early stages and any proposals would require approval from the Environment Agency.

As a direct result of the last two wet winters, an Operational Management Action Plan has been prepared which sets out the operational measures to be taken in circumstances of high groundwater levels. This has been issued to our Operations team. We have written to Dorset County Council to advise we will be objecting to further development in locations at risk of groundwater flooding and where no groundwater strategy is in place. We will be reporting again to the Environment Agency in April 2015, with an update on our work this year. I hope this is helpful.

Yours sincerely - Ruth Steinhausen, Customer Relations

You can print additional copies of the Flooding maps questionnaire for your village, from these links

Flooding map questionnaire - Alton Pancras

Flooding map questionnaire - Piddletrenthide

Flooding map questionnaire - Plush

Flooding map questionnaire - White Lackington

Flooding map questionnaire - Piddlehinton

News Letter No 9 - 01/07/14

The following aspects are a brief description of our policy areas :

  • Protect and enhance the environment of the Piddle Valley.
  • Protect the higher landscapes and fine long distant views.
  • Develop a policy to manage the Valley woodland in order to enhance its contribution to the landscape.
  • Improve protection of the Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCIs).
  • Ensure a high standard of management and effective Rights of Way signposting.
  • Minimise light pollution Enterprise Park, etc.
  • Encourage re-use of redundant farm buildings for housing and small businesses.
  • Contain new housing within the existing boundaries of the five communities.
  • Ensure high standards of design and materials for all development.
  • Designate green open spaces within each community.
  • Ensure farm building developments minimise environmental impact and take advantage of improved design and new, more sensitive materials.
    • If the above does not include aspects which you feel are important or wish to raise any other points, please do be in touch.

News Letter No 8 - 01/05/14

The topography of the Piddle Valley together with the combination of arable and livestock units results in landscape contrasts and this together with the long distance uninterrupted views give the area its distinct and outstanding character. The location of the five communities, all situated in the Valley bottom together with virtually no development on the higher landscape, is an important factor in protecting the environment of the AONB.

The Neighbourhood Plan area embraces 26 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest of which 20 are in the northern area; these sites are monitored by the Dorset Wildlife Trust, some remain in good condition, others have deteriorated due to lack of grazing.

Uncontrolled grass growth stifles out the plant species which have a low growth habit. There is an opportunity within the Plan to raise the profile of this problem within the community and thereby trigger the possibility of grazing the affected sites with animals from adjacent farms, particularly youngstock.

Over many years farming within the Valley has gone through a period of restructuring resulting in smaller farms being absorbed by larger and more efficient units. While it is frequently claimed that larger farms are responsible for the reduced diversity of our landscapes and wildlife habitats, in reality there is sound evidence to show that larger farms have the area of land and ability to address these problems and participate fully in Environment Stewardship Schemes.

We must ensure that building developments on farms are grouped together rather than fragmented and by appropriate siting, good design and the use of sympathetic materials, their impact on the landscape can be greatly reduced. A problem associated with larger units consisting of blocks of fragmented land divorced from the main farming enterprise, is the increase in the number of tractor movements within the Valley. This has a major impact on noise levels, damage to road surfaces and the environment and will only be resolved by economic pressures together with appropriate policies to allow investment in new facilities.

News Letter No 7 - 01/03/14

There can be little doubt that Valley residents greatly appreciate the surroundings in which we live, although most of us would be hard pressed to identify all the factors which contribute to the enjoyment of living here.

Change in our environment is inevitable but properly structured can be a force for good. The Focus Group is working on the basis that a Neighbourhood Plan developed within the community provides the opportunity to bring together policies more sensitive to our needs than distant National, County and District Plans.

Building in the five communities has, with a few exceptions, taken place very close to the Valley bottom. Our splendid Valley landscape consists of relatively steep slopes and higher level areas which were determined by geology and today's appearance results primarily from the development of agriculture over many generations. Fortunately, our farming can still be described as mixed in terms of the combination of livestock and arable enterprises with its contrasts of grassland and arable crops - far more attractive than the monoculture of the eastern counties. Within the five communities green open spaces are also important features we need to protect. The substantial area of woodland combines relatively small woods and is another factor adding to the value of our landscapes. Appropriate management can increase the contribution this makes and as a source of fuel. There are many Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation and Land of Local Landscape Importance for which we can encourage additional protection.

The Valley environment is enhanced by amenities: an excellent school, shop, four public houses, well structured farms, shooting syndicates and business activities at Enterprise Park, Piddlehinton. Developing appropriate policies to protect and enhance aspects of the environment we appreciate, will also attract visitors who could generate additional income within the Valley, as well as for our own present needs.

Our Neighbourhood Plan must be inspirational to be acceptable to the community. Objectives can be supported by protection and enhancement of our landscapes, containing future development within natural boundaries.

News Letter No 6 - 01/01/14

Following advice from South West Regen, a Forestry consultant will be assessing opportunities for further discussion with owners.

News Letter No 5 - 01/11/13

The group is now in the final stages of the walks over the Piddle Valley landscape with only Piddlehinton outstanding.

In the previous newsletter, we detailed 11 aspects to be addressed; our forthcoming report will form an important part of our Neighbourhood Plan. We have no doubt that with our local knowledge we can prioritise particular aspects of our landscape and therefore afford greater protection than offered by the West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland Local Plan. This covers a wide area and cannot by definition cover all the aspects we feel makes the Piddle Valley a very special area in which to live.

It will be most helpful if the community can identify their specific interests and aspects for particular attention. Suggestions might range from areas on which future development could take place, to areas already with protection that could be enhanced by improved management eg woodland and hedge planting, improved supervision of wild flower pastures, Rights of Way etc.

We look forward to receiving your comments.

News Letter No 4 - 01/09/13

The work of this focus group is well under way and has identified issues we need to set out for the Neighbourhood Plan :

  • all future building development should be situated in the Valley bottom, in or adjacent to the existing development forming the five communities
  • protection of specific long distance views from future development areas where development may be appropriate for uses such as private and low-cost housing, business and recreational facilities
  • future uses for redundant attractive and historic buildings where they can be protected by conversion for new, sustainable uses
  • protection of green open spaces which add to the quality of the environment in which we live
  • farming in the Piddle Valley is mainly well-structured in size and scale of enterprise; we need to recognise that additional buildings may be needed to allow expansion of farm activity and facilitate technological development; new buildings should be environmentally sustainable and designed in sympathy with their landscape setting
  • prevent as far as possible, farm fragmentation that results in unviable businesses to avoid unnecessary damage to the landscape
  • encourage the longer-term management of under-utilised woodland as a potential energy source and a valuable asset in protecting our landscapes
  • encourage protection, management and replacement where necessary, of hedgerows as valuable wildlife corridors and important features of the landscape
  • require the highest level of management to ensure protection of our 21 sites of Local Nature Interest, some of which are in good condition but others are deteriorating in their range of plant species
  • set out ways to protect and enhance public access that increases visitor numbers and encourages business activity
  • encourage restoration of fingerpost direction signs where necessary and remove unnecessary signage

Responses to these proposals for priorities and any other aspects you may feel we should address will be much appreciated and help to ensure we have wide acceptance of the Plan as it emerges.

News Letter No 3 - 01/07/13

Whilst we realise how fortunate we are to live in the Piddle Valley environment our surroundings must inevitably be subject to a degree of change if the community is to develop and prosper. The aim of our focus group is therefore to pull together policies which will protect and enhance the environment and at the same time develop and promote policies that will cater for all age groups and different interests.

Approximately 90% of the land forming our Neighbourhood Plan area consists of farmland, 3% woodland and the balance buildings, roads, etc. By any standards we live in a very rural area, a position we would not wish to change. Farms are mainly large-scale, well structured and efficient hence viable over the long-term. Woodland by contrast, although relatively small in area is mainly unmanaged thereby offering the possibility of providing employment and a source of timber for fuel, etc. The Piddle Valley also has a substantial number of areas of grassland designated as Sites of Local Importance for nature conservation - mainly wildflower pastures. Some are in good condition, others deteriorating due to lack of grazing, a matter requiring attention.

The Group is currently walking the Neighbourhood Plan area in order to assess priorities for the future. Issues identified to-date include woodland, hedgerows, nature conservation areas, the need to protect green open spaces within each of the five communities, redundant farm buildings, business sites, possible sites for development - particularly affordable homes and sites for renewable energy development.

If you have any additional aspects you feel the Group should address we shall be very pleased to hear from you.