SES Water says it intends to reveal detailed plans for its land at Fetcham Springs by April 13th – in time for the FRA AGM on the same evening.
Speaking to the FRA in February, SES Director Tom Kelly, said he planned to attend the meeting in the Village Hall and was willing to answer residents’ questions. It’s expected the scheme will include solar panels, and a water industry education centre. Improved management of the site may increase residents’ access and encourage wildlife.
Mr Kelly said: “I want to pull together a single document which is shared with key stakeholders. I want to talk about amenity improvements, management, and a form of solar array. We want to elicit feedback and see if there is broad support for it.”
SES Water first revealed it was considering plans for the 35 acre site next to the Cobham Road more than a year ago. But so far it has not come forward with any detail on the extent of the solar arrays it has in mind, or the location of an education centre.
The company says it wants to generate power on the site to help it meet the water industry’s carbon net-zero target by 2030, and improve the area's biodiversity.
In recent months there’s been a further complication. Network Rail says it needs to carry out major work to stabilise the railway embankment running along the northern edge of Fetcham Springs.
This will mean the closure of the footpath running from Cannon Grove to Mill Lane from at least May to September, although these timings have yet to be confirmed.
As many residents will know, this path is subject to frequent flooding from the build up of water in the adjacent area of wet woodland. After examining the site, Network Rail engineers have told the FRA and SES that their restoration work to the footpath is unlikely to stop it flooding in the long term.
As a result, the FRA is pressing SES to consider diverting the footpath to a new line to the south of the wet woodland area. SES has not excluded this option, but at present wants to look at the feasibility and ongoing costs of managing the water level in the woodland next to the path.
To help residents, the FRA has suggested a temporary footpath diversion, but this has been ruled out by SES.
Patrick Bisgood comments on behalf of the FRA:
"We are grateful to Tom Kelly for agreeing to address our AGM, as his colleague, Henrietta Stock, did last year, and to answer questions on SES Water’s plans for Fetcham Springs.
With both Fetcham Springs and SES’s site at Elmer Works on Hawks Hill removed from the Local Plan, we will be interested to hear in greater detail how their ideas are developing.
All plans will need to be submitted to Mole Valley’s planning department for approval at which point residents will be able to comment on them.
In the meantime, we expect interest will be focussed on the extent of the solar array and its impact on the visual amenity of Fetcham Springs.
Of equal importance will be the ongoing management of the site, including the wet woodland beside the footpath, to enhance its biodiversity.
We also expect interest in the siting of and access to the proposed visitor centre."