Today was a truly, truly awful day in Feniton.
Along with many others, I was soaked to the skin dashing round the village in an effort to help those who had turned out to keep drains clear. It was metaphorically all hands to the pump (we don’t have any pumps capable of clearing the road).
Water was gushing off the Wainhomes site through the children’s play area, through the allotments and risking houses further down the road.
Sewage was pouring out of the drains on Ottery Road and a resident who called South West Water was apparently told NOT to use her toilet and to suggest the same to her neighbours. And this is twenty-first century England!
Sewage was discharging again on the road from Feniton old village towards the treatment works where it entered the Vine stream which eventually goes into the River Otter and onward to Budleigh Salterton.
And this is the third time in 10 days over the Christmas period.
The Environment Agency has been informed on each occasion and hopefully a picture will be building up of the inadequacies of the foul water network in the village.
Feniton has really had enough. But there is more to come. The village has been on flood alert for much of the Christmas period, but so far the flood prevention measures put in place on individual properties have held and while roads and gardens have flooded, the houses have remained safe. This is largely due to EDDC engineers who have organised for ditches to be emptied, turning out on New Year’s Day to see what could be done.
But what makes me really, really angry, is that on Tuesday (less than a week away), the Super Inquiry into mass development starts. Three developers intend to surround the village with concrete by building 235 more houses, increasing the size of the village by over 40%.
Current Government planning policy (NPPF) has left East Devon in a vacuum of uncertainty over where development should happen.
The sustainability credentials of the village will be thrashed out over a 2-week period at the Flybe Training Academy in Exeter in front of a Planning Inspector who will decide the fate of the village … and whether indeed it should be turned into a New Town.
But those of us who waded through flood-diluted sewage in the village today know exactly how sustainable Feniton actually is.