Putting The Record Straight: A Statement About Tom Gray’s Letter

You may have seen a letter from Tom Gray, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion, about Royal Mail’s proposals for Patcham Court Farm. Frustratingly, the tone of his letter is rather patronising and he is dismissive of over 1,100 residents and organisations who have objected to the proposals, often citing legitimate and well-researched concerns about water contamination, as well as many other risks.

It is now clear: a self-styled sewage campaigner wants to try to divide our community and ignore Patcham’s water issues.

Mr Gray’s letter shows we have not been listened to in our numerous meetings and communications with him and others, so we must now redouble our efforts to be heard. Gray doesn’t provide information about the dangers, so we are sharing some research.

Inconvenient truths: why we are concerned about our water and this bid

  1. Patcham Court Farm is part of the Drinking Water Protected Area. It is on the Inner Source Protection Area Zone 1 (the highest rating) and part of the city’s principal aquifer which supplies drinking water to 116,000 homes. These facts alone should be enough to stop an industrial and polluting development.

  2. The environmental sensitivities at Patcham Court Farm have led to numerous planning applications there being rejected. The Environment Agency said in 2005: “Patcham Court Farm overlies the junction of a water supply welladit and a karstic collapsed cavern derived from a N-S trending major fissure. This affords virtually no dilution of site-derived drainage into the Patcham source and poses a potentially unacceptable risk of contamination to controlled water."

  3. The bid would make Royal Mail custodians of this environmentally sensitive piece of land and would give them the power to sublease Patcham Court Farm to anyone. The council has recently been forced to make these worrying terms and conditions public.

  4. The government’s Drinking Water Inspectorate already monitors Patcham’s drinking water for e-coli. This is not a standard procedure but an action that is taken when a risk has been identified and needs further protection.

  5. Patcham Court Farm is specifically named in the Brighton Corporation Water Act 1924 designed to protect the city’s water supply from contamination. The site borders the South Downs National Park (SDNP) and we believe it should receive the same protection as SDNP land.

Water issues extend way beyond Patcham.

The Drinking Water Inspectorate has raised concerns about our drinking water becoming unwholesome and said: “There is or has been a significant risk of supplying water from Brighton Catchment that could constitute a potential danger to human health”. The Brighton Downs Alliance points out that the aquifers in the South Downs are the most polluted in the region. Seven out of thirteen boreholes have nitrate levels exceeding drinking water standards due to pollution.

Gray has made unsubstantiated claims and now wants us to be quiet.

Gray's claim that the A27 has had no impact on water quality is naive. The Brighton Chalk Management Partnership (Now The Aquifer Partnership) emphasizes that highway runoff is the third-highest source of pollution in the UK. It is no coincidence that a de-nitrification system was installed at the Patcham water source since the A27/A23 development.

Gray’s comments that treated water is completely safe are incorrect and tone deaf. In the last few weeks alone, people in Devon became ill due to South West Water’s treated tap water that was contaminated, a similar situation then occurred in South-West London with Thames Valley Water and then again in Bramley, Surrey residents were told not to drink tap water due to a fuel leak reaching the water supply. Sadly, it is clear our water companies cannot be trusted and are failing us.

This is not a Gray area. The risks are black and white.

There is still time for our Labour-controlled council to be on the right side of history, stand with us to regenerate Patcham Court Farm and protect Patcham from ecological risks. If Royal Mail’s plans proceed, taxpayers will bear the costs for decades.

Trust is fragile, and people remember the impact of political decisions like this for generations.



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