Villagers are optimistic that decades of sewage flooding onto their properties might finally be resolved after plans were approved for a new pumping station.
While residents of Colton near Tadcaster have given a guarded welcome to Yorkshire Water’s scheme to increase the capacity and replace the 52-year-old system, members of North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee said the “horrendous” situation facing villagers there was not uncommon in the county.
The owners of some ten properties in Colton have increasingly frequently suffered sewage flooding onto their land since the early 1990s when sewage from Bilborough village and Bilborough Top services on the A64 was sent to Colton’s pumping station. Capacity issues have been exacerbated as the station also had to manage foul and surface water flows from Appleton Roebuck and Bolton Percy.
Councillors were told Colton’s residents had been left reliant on tankers emptying the pumping station every time there was moderate rainfall.
To alleviate the situation Yorkshire Water has been using tankers 24 hours a day for up to ten days at a time to clear foul water from the pumping station, leading to sewage tankers regularly driving to and from the village.
Residents Dr Maggie and John Inman said the issue was having a significant impact on them. They said on one occasion last winter the sewage situation was so severe that tanker drivers brought sandbags to prevent their house flooding with sewage and that when the garden was flooded they could not use their toilets.
In a statement they told the committee: “We are both pensioners and know that the situation is a considerable health hazard for us. We have got to the stage where we are nervous of going on holiday in case there is severe flooding.”
The planning meeting heard the pumping station at Colton managed foul and surface water flows from the Bilbrough, Appleton Roebuck, and Bolton Percy, but it had reached the end of its operational lifespan and was unable to effectively store and pass forward increasing flows.
The meeting was told the utility had taken steps to mitigate against the risk of sewage flooding by installing a temporary above ground storm water storage tank while consultations and design proposals for a replacement sewage pumping station were finalised.
Councillors were also told Yorkshire Water had also taken account of potential future developments in the area when designing the new pumping station.
In a statement an agent for the utility said: “The proposed development will lead to a beneficial effect on public amenity and the local environment and whilst some short-term disruption in the immediate area may occur it can be readily mitigated through considerate construction techniques.”
The planning committee unanimously welcomed the proposal, but said Yorkshire Water “ought to have have addressed this a few years sooner” and needed to tackle similar issues elsewhere.
Coun John McCartney said at least two villages in his Osgoldcross division were suffering from inadequate sewage systems. He said: “We have one where we get human faeces coming out of showers. It’s really hard to get Yorkshire Water to take this stuff seriously.”
After the meeting residents voiced frustration that it had taken over three years for the scheme to be developed and approved.
Parish council chairman Coun Stewart Steele said he hoped the proposals would lead to “less of a problem for the village”, but said he was not confident it would end sewage issues in the area as there remained pipes beyond their working lifespan which were frequently bursting.