The District has an extensive and varied water environment, consisting of:-

  1. major chalk aquifers, which provide most of the District's public water supply;
  2. lakes and ponds;
  3. the River Dour and the lower reaches of the River Stour, together with their tributaries;
  4. a network of dykes and drainage ditches in the north of the District; and
  5. the English Channel, which forms one third (32 km. or 20 miles) of the District's administrative boundary.

Existing Situation


In East Kent, droughts have resulted in water resource shortages, hosepipe and groundwater extraction bans, and caused harm to river environments, including wildlife. Some coastal areas are also at risk from salt water tainting, where groundwater levels are very low. Nevertheless, Kent is self-sufficient in water supply and, with leakage control and waste reduction, could continue to be so. However, water imported from the rest of the Southern Region can be secured and it is the policy of the Environment Agency to do so should self-sufficiency damage the water environment.


The quality of some groundwater, rivers and coastal bathing waters in the District has been affected by various sources of pollution. Pesticide contamination of groundwater has been identified as a problem in the south of the District. Landfill and colliery spoil sites could also pose a problem if contaminants were to leach into the groundwater. Leaking cesspools are common, even in water gathering areas.


The River Dour is of the highest water quality (Class 1a) and able to support fish, such as trout. The Environment Agency is currently investigating the impact of recent low water levels on the river's rich botanical and invertebrate life. The quality of the River Stour and its tributaries varies from Good to Fair. Upstream from Sandwich, the quality of the Stour is Good. Its Fair rating downstream from Sandwich is a result of wastewater effluent and effluent from the pharmaceutical industry.


The quality of coastal bathing waters has been historically poor as a result of both private and public sewage effluent discharges. However, since waste water treatment works were completed at Sandwich Bay, there has been a steady improvement of bathing water quality. All three beaches at the coastal bathing water sites at Sandwich Bay, Deal Castle and St Margaret's Bay met the standards set by the European Union Bathing Waters Directive in the 1996 bathing season. To date, no beach in the District has achieved the European Blue Flag Award, which requires criteria additional to bathing water quality to be met. Further measures are in hand to address river and coastal pollution, and these are considered in paragraphs 6.18-19.

Applying the Plan's Aims and Objectives


Water is a vital resource. It needs careful management if it is not to be degraded, over-exploited or threaten life and property. This reflects the sustainable use of water, in accordance with Aim 1 (Objectives 2 and 4). An attractive water environment is also an economic asset, furthering Aim 2, Objective 21. Water recreation and accessibility (Aim 3) are considered in Chapter 12.

Water Environment Strategy


Based on the existing situation and Aims 1 and 2, the Plan's Water Environment Strategy will seek to:-

  1. contain, reduce and, if possible, prevent water pollution;
  2. direct development away from areas liable to flooding and coastal erosion;
  3. support the most efficient use of water;
  4. provide mains drainage throughout the District; and
  5. wherever possible, protect and enhance the nature conservation, landscape and amenity value of the District's water environment.

The ability of the Plan to fully implement this Strategy is limited as, for example, pollution is not controlled by Town and Country Planning legislation. The Environment Agency has a duty to safeguard the water environment in general, while private water companies are responsible for water supply and wastewater treatment. Nevertheless, the Plan can directly influence the location of new development and water infrastructure plant. Support will be given to the statutory responsibilities of other bodies where this accords with the Strategy.



Broad Oak Reservoir


A new reservoir, at Broad Oak in Canterbury District, was being promoted by Southern Water Services Ltd, Mid Kent Water plc and Folkestone and Dover Water Services Ltd. It would have created a major new water source to serve East Kent, including the District, into the next century. However, the decision to proceed with the scheme has now been deferred until after the Plan Period.



New Treatment Facilities


A new wastewater treatment works at Broomfield Bank, west of Dover, will serve the Dover and Folkestone area. Another wastewater treatment works, to the north of Richborough in Thanet District, now serves the Deal and Sandwich areas. Southern Water Services Ltd is investigating the possibility of depositing sludge from these works at Betteshanger Colliery spoil tip. The depositing of sludge is a matter for the Waste Local Plan, prepared by the County Council. The District Council would support such a scheme provided there is no adverse impact on nature conservation interests, reedbed filtration is incorporated into the scheme, and the proposal is acceptable in amenity and transport terms. Pfizer Ltd has constructed a plant to deal with its own effluent. These developments should improve the bathing water quality of coastal waters, to meet current European Union standards.


It is understood that Southern Water Services Ltd has no programme to extend mains drainage to the remaining unconnected rural parts of the District. The District Council is able to provide first time sewerage. A 20 year rolling programme was approved in 1989 and the first scheme at Hull Place, Sholden, has been completed. The Council is currently investigating ways of implementing the rest of this programme.



River Corridors

A river corridor includes the river, its banks and land close by, such as water meadows, marshes or other wetland areas. Main rivers refer to watercourses for which the Environment Agency has responsibility. The Environment Agency's consent is required for all development in, over or under a main river or within 8 metres (26 ft.) from the top of its banks. Where tidal stretches of river have a bund wall defence, the extent is 15 metres from the landward toe of the wall. Consent within the buffer zone is unlikely if the development would obstruct access for river maintenance or affect nature conservation interests.


River corridors are very important for nature conservation and quiet recreation, as well as contributing to the landscape. Policy ENV11 of Kent Structure Plan sets out a policy of conserving and enhancing the environment within river corridors, including the landscape, water environment and wildlife habitats. Where consistent with these objectives the policy allows for the provision of public access and water-related recreation opportunities. Proposals will be judged against the general policies of this Plan together with Structure Plan Policy ENV11. Management aspects are covered in Chapter 5.

Moorings and Pontoons


Unauthorised moorings and pontoons are a particular problem on the River Stour. These structures are very visible and intrusive in the flat landscape surrounding Sandwich. They can harm historic environment and nature conservation interests. Noise, disturbance and access are also recognised problems. Consequently, the Council will only be prepared to permit new moorings within, or well related to, the built-up area of Sandwich. In addition, permission will only be granted if there is no conflict with historic environment, nature conservation, access and amenity interests. In cases of unauthorised moorings, the Council will take steps to secure their removal and, if necessary, take enforcement action. Water recreation is considered in Chapter 12.

Policy WE6 –

Moorings and pontoons will not be permitted in locations on the River Stour which are not well-related to the built-up area of Sandwich. In addition, permission will not be granted if they would harm historic environment, nature conservation, access and amenity interests.

Environmental Appraisal

This policy supports the Objectives of protecting the countryside and the historic environment. No Objectives are adversely affected.



The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is encouraging cooperation among local authorities, other agencies and interest groups to produce coastal management plans. A strategy to deal with issues along the Kent coast is being prepared by the County Council, District Councils and other interested parties. DEFRA is promoting the preparation of shoreline management plans, two of which affect this District, and water level management plans, while English Nature is encouraging the preparation of Estuary Management Plans. As a priority, the Environment Agency intends to prepare a water level management plan for the Sandwich Bay/Pegwell Bay Ramsar site, Special Protection Area and Candidate Special Area for Conservation. Such plans will help resolve potential conflicts of the many interests in coastal areas, including nature conservation, recreation, fisheries and port activities. The Council supports such management initiatives.