ENVIRONMENTAL bosses held a public consultation over plans by Southend Airport to discharge de-icer into two streams after hundreds of people raised concerns.
The Environment Agency held the event so residents could see details of the airport’s application to continue discharging into Prittle and Eastwood Brooks.
Last month, the Echo revealed airport operator the Stobart Group had been discharging deicer for more than two years into the brooks, but was only now applying for a permit to continue the practice, which could see up to 5,273 cubic metres discharged a day.
The report led to 400 people getting in touch with the agency to express concern, leading to the public consulation event being arranged.
Peter Wexham, a Leigh ward councillor, wrote to the agency with concerns about the impact on wildlife, saying: “I have worked with Anglian Water and the agency on cleaning up our rivers and water courses.
“Now we have this outrageous application from the airport for a licence to discharge into the brooks.
“A mammal survey we carried out some years ago found water voles in both brooks. In Priory Park, where the brook goes back to nature from the concrete, kingfishers are seen regularly.
The brooks run into the River Roach, which has shellfish beds of mussels, oyster & clams as well as the fish.
“I strongly object to this application and suggest the EA take action to stop this happening as soon as possible.”
Jill Gillham, from Southend, is concerned that the extra water and de-icer running into the brooks could cause flooding, particularly given last August’s heavy rainfall.
She said: “From the proposed discharge figures now amended, there will be a massive increase in untreated water being discharged into local brooks which ultimately lead to the River Crouch.
“I have information in writing from Anglian Water that states heavy rainfall higher than that experienced in August 2013 will have nowhere to go, and that “there is not enough capacity in the local drainage”.
The Stobart Group claims its tests have have shown no significant increase in pollution.
David Lister, Southend Airport operations director, said: “The monitoring we have been doing to date has shown there has been no negative impact to the water courses the rainfall run-off ends up in. We use a product, potassium acetate, which is the most environmentally friendly of the airfield de-icing materials and does break down very rapidly.
“It has been chosen to absolutely minimise potential impact to the environment, and the results of our monitoring shows that is the case.”
Barry Carter, airport manager of health and safety, added: “We are achieving the best we can.
We are leading edge with the product we are using.”
To take part in the consultation email psc-waterquality@ environment-agency.gov.uk or write to the Permitting and Support Centre, Water Quality Team, Quadrant 2, 99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield, S9 4WF.