Public meeting to be held in Buckingham to discuss next steps after Great Ouse pollution incident

Photo shows a stretch of the River Great Ouse taken when it was affected by pollution earlier this year
Photo shows a stretch of the River Great Ouse taken when it was affected by pollution earlier this year

A public meeting is being held next month to discuss what action will be taken next following a high-profile pollution incident earlier this year which affected a large stretch of the River Great Ouse near Buckingham.

Back in June, a fire broke out at an industrial unit near Brackley and it is believed that following this incident a contaminated substance entered the river, turning the water a foam-like colour and killing hundreds of fish.

A public meeting is being held next month (date to be confirmed) and residents and organisations interested in the recovery of the river are invited to join Environment Agency officers for an update on the situation and a discussion about possible ways forward.

The Environment Agency recently issued a community briefing giving an update on their investigation into the pollution incident.

They said: "Our ongoing investigation is looking at whether criminal offences have been committed - this has to be conducted to the standards required for such investigations.

"We are also looking at the company potentially involved and consequently there are constraints on what we can release publicly at this time.

"We have conducted extensive monitoring and have now received laboratory analysis of the samples taken from the river at the time of the incident.

"Our sampling helps to assess the impact of the incident on water quality, fish and invertebrates and these form part of our investigation.

"At this time we are not able to release details of these as they may be used as evidence.

"We do not believe that there is any ongoing impact and that the chemicals involved have now dispersed/degraded.

"We continue to conduct further surveys of the river to determine the recovery of the ecosystems.

"A recent survey within a section of the river indicated that invertebrate populations are recovering.

"We will consider fish restocking once we are confident that the invertebrate levels within the river can support a fish population."

Earlier this week Bill Chapple, county council cabinet member for planning and environment and Warren Whyte, county councillor for Buckingham East and the county representative to the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, met with officers of the Environment Agency.

Topics discussed included the recent River Great Ouse pollution event, the historic challenges of flooding, the rights and responsibilities of riparian owners who live adjacent to the river, and how the river and flood management could be improved through future development and the proposed East West expressway.

Cllr Whyte said: "I am very pleased that the Environment Agency visited Buckingham this week to discuss a range of topics relating to our river, and am grateful for the cabinet member attending and to share his experience and knowledge.

"Continuing dialogue between the agency, local councils and residents will be important for the future of the river and we are also pleased to hear that the agency is continuing its investigation into the causes of the recent pollution incident."