At 11:01 a.m. I received an email…
“Dean Burn really milky”
“Opaque and milky white, not mud”
This pollution event was witnessed by three people and quickly reported.
Initially they were trying to quickly raise local awareness and get others out to see what they were seeing at the bridge where the Dean Burn joins the Mardle at The Orchard Millennium Green in Buckfastleigh.
However they soon realised they had to work out – ‘Who do we call? What’s the number? How do we find out? If we do get hold of the correct someone, will they be able to see it in time? How quickly can they get here?’
I reckon many incidents go unreported because people just don’t know how to report them. And by no fault of their own. It’s not like ringing the fire, medical, police services, etc. where organisations make an effort to publish their telephone numbers through many different media and inform people of all ages about what to do. Good old fashioned public service campaigns and communications.
But what if it’s our natural environment being threatened? Who ya gonna call?
If the appeal is upheld, which I sincerely hope it is not, then incidents like this will only become more frequent and more damaging. Observation, common sense and history tells us this. Particularly if the proposed development does get approval, the public (and our environment) deserve a service that is transparent, accountable and easy to access by all people.
Nowadays it should be as simple as a text, or a Tweet, or an email on a smartphone. As well as a telephone call. Easy to remember; easy to do.
And there should be a Service Level Agreement with known ‘response times’ between the responsible agency and the reporting public, similar to other public services. Why is our natural environment less important??
Back to the incident…
It was reported and a representative from the Water Board AND from the Environment Agency (Plympton) turned up. They saw the photos and agreed it was naughty, and that it was NOT stirred up mud. They went to Whitecleave Quarry, spoke with Ms Georgi Gilpin of Gilpin Demolition and had a look. But there was no visible evidence by this time. So no action.
They did warn her about it and about any further sightings of pollution.
But was it a FORMAL WARNING? Does this incident go onto Gilpin Demolition’s record as the quarry operator?? IT SHOULD.
The photos above and below were taken at the same time on the morning of Thursday 01 August, at about 11:00. The pictures of the milky water (above) is the Dean Burn and the clear running water (below) is the Mardle. An excellent visual record to compare and contrast.
However, and unfortunately, the people of Buckfastleigh don’t and won’t know what was in our river. As far as I know, no water samples were taken. And I don’t know the names of the officials who attended or what they will or can do about it. What follow up they will do? File a formal report, make recommendations, etc.? If so, where will the report be kept? For how long? Is it easily accessible by the public?
Do we, should we, file a formal complaint against the quarry operator?
If I get further information I will update this page.
Just to be absolutely clear, the pictures below are of the Mardle, clear running water. Taken at the same location, day and time of the polluted Dean Burn (the 3 pictures above are the Dean Burn).