Forest Holidays' problems with sewage
Poorly-specified plans at Fineshade
With Forest Holidays' previous application their plans for sewage disposal were not well described. Their planning statement (June 2014) said only this at section 3.16:
Foul sewage is to be processed on site with an appropriate package treatment plant to ensure that all discharge is polished and suitable to run into the soils. The detail of such treatment plant will be agreed with the Environment Agency.
The map shown to residents in January 2014 had no sewage disposal plant marked, but by August a tiny rectangle marked "Package Treatment Plant" had appeared on their maps. This is in the north-west part of their red-line area (map top right). No detailed tree or ecological survey had been carried out in the thick inpenetrable area, which is surrounded by a deer fence. However, the FH ecological advisor had marked the exclosure area on their map as prime Dormouse habitat (lower map right).
The Environment Agency's response to the application requested full details and plans, pointed out the likely need for an environmental permit, and asked for clarification of disposal of trade effluent. What the EA failed to ask was whether the discharge of chemical-rich water from hot tubs would be direct to ground water or through the package treatment plant. (See Hot tub problems here.)
No responses were provided by Forest Holidays, but the council's planning officer proposed to deal with this major issue through a planning condition after the granting of permission. Because the first FH application was withdrawn and the second was unanimously refused, how FH proposed to deal with sewage was never specified.
The sewage disposal plant was drawn, apparently at random, in a thick area of coppiced woodland identified as prime dormouse habitat
Problems with sewage at other sites
Problems have been experienced with the installation of Package Treatment Plants in FH's developments at their Thorpe Wood and Forest of Dean sites.
In practice these treatment plants require a huge amount of excavation to install. The photograph right shows the area that had to be excavated to install one of the two tanks at Thorpe, which then filled the shored up area in the centre of the picture. Further excavation, of a similar size, was then required to install the second tank several yards away. Clearly similar excavation work at Fineshade in the middle of prime Dormouse habitat would have a very dire effect on biodiversity.
After completion, the Thorpe Wood sewage plant was found not to be functioning effectively. There was excessive fluid passing through the plant (possibly water from hot tubs) and the high levels of discharge disturbed the sediment of the nearby river. The quality of the discharge was also found not to satisfy acceptable levels. This has meant they are having to regularly desludge the plant (two tanker loads on each occasion), with a new hard surfaced track constructed to enable tankers to access the plant, with a new hard surfaced track constructed to enable tankers to access the plant.
Further problems have required FH to erect the stench pipe shown here.
Recently FH have made a fresh planning application to build a third holding tank as part of the Sewage Package Plant at Thorpe Wood, even though their drainage consultants have been unable to identify why the plant is not working properly.
At the Forest of Dean site there have also been problems, particularly with smell. When they applied to increase the number of cabins at the Forest of Dean by 44, (FH often enlarge their sites after thay have gained a foothold in a wood) there were several comments posted on the Forest of Dean planning website about sewage smells. For example:
The Parish Council draw your attention to ... the smell of sewerage which pervades the area where the cabins are currently located.
English Bicknor Parish Council Consultation response 21 January 2015
Lessons should be learnt from issues arising from the earlier Woodlands campsite construction. The sewage system is currently inadequate or inappropriate, offensive smells of raw sewage affect the north west corner of the Woodlands site. The sewage treatment plant requires upgrading to overcome this problem.
Public comment submitted05 Jan 2014
The first sewage tank under construction at Thorpe Woodlands
"... the smell of sewerage which pervades the area where the cabins are currently located"
Bicknor Parish Council, Forest of Dean
Stench pipe attached to tree at Thorpe Woodlands, Norfolk
Could problems be due to discharge from hot tubs?
Forest Holidays are quite reluctant to reveal how they deal with the chemical-rich water from hot tubs but if it goes into a Sewage Treatment Plant it will almost certainly cause the plant to fail.
Each type of Sewage Treatment Plant uses a treatment unit or biological zone where the sewage comes into contact with micro-organisms that break down the organic matter in the sewage. There also needs to be a regular steady flowof sewage to keep the micro-organisms alive and to operate most effectively.
However, the chemicals added to hot tubs are specifically designed to prevent the formation of such micro organisms. So if on changeover days FH drain all their hot-tubs into the sewage treatment plant, not only would there be a sudden, huge flow through the treatment plant, but the biological processes would be ruined.
How much chemical-rich water?
We think there were to be 63 hot tubs in FH's last application.
Allowing for 90% occupation and taking into account the length of stays, we estimate 68% of those tubs would be emptied on an average changeover day. (Twice each week.)
That is at least 42 tubs to be emptied - each probably with at least a cubic metre of chemical-rich water.
42 cu. m. is 42,000 litres or 10,000 gallons of water to be dealt with twice each week.