We are delighted that Cambridge City Council will be supporting our application to Defra for Bathing Water Designation for the Cam at Sheep’s Green
This followed consideration by the City Council’s Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee on 5 October, at which Councillors voted, 7 to 1, to formally support an application for Bathing Water Designation for the Cam at Sheep’s Green
We can now finalise and submit our application.
Anne Miller, Cam Valley forum’s lead on this says “I’m so pleased, and grateful for the hard work of everyone who has helped, since Jean Perraton and Michael Goodhart started working towards bathing water designation back in 2020”
We are very hopeful that Defra will approve our application, and that this will unlock at least £5 Million in much needed investment from Anglian Water to help clean up the Cam. We know from the monitoring work over the last few years, that the aging and overloaded sewage infrastructure in the Haslingfield area is a major source of the faecal pollution of the Cam. This is resulting in such poor water quality that swimmers at times get sick, and it contributes to the phosphate pollution that is so damaging to habitats and wildlife. ”
“The investigation and improvements won’t happen overnight, but we hope that within a few years, it will be much safer for people to swim in the Cam”
Michael Goodhart said “The Town Bathing Place at Sheep’s Green has a history going back several hundred years, as a place where people could swim. Back in the 1960s my family would picnic and catch tiddlers along Rush and float rafts in the paddling pool. I was taught to swim in Snob’s Stream, before being allowing to dive into the main river Cam. I still love swimming in the river Cam, as do so many people. Bathing Water Designation provides a major opportunity for improving the quality of the river water for swimmers, boaters and also, very importantly we hope, for wildlife. “
Sheep’s Green in the 1970s
About bathing water designation for the Cam at Sheep’s Green
Cam Valley Forum will be applying to Defra for Bathing Water Designation for the Cam at Sheep’s Green, to improve the health of swimmers and help clean up the River Cam.
Summer evening at Sheep’s Green
Importantly, because the water quality is very likely to be offically rated as “poor”, designation should get us the investment we need to help clean up the river.
We are pleased to see that Anglian Water’s business plan, published on Monday 2 October, confirms this. In it, on pages 174-6, they say that IF the Cam gets priority, by becoming “Designated Bathing Water” they are budgeting ~£5M to improve Haslingfield’s ageing and overloaded sewage infrastructure. We need this!
However to apply for Designation, we had to have a formal letter of support from the City Council.
Our consultation has shown that designation is overwhelmingly supported by the community. We received 509 responses to our 10 week online consultation, the vast majority from the local area. 93% were in support. In addition to the City Council, we also have support from 18 organisations, ranging from Scudamores and Cambridge Canoe Club, to the Cambridge Federation of Women’s Institutes and South Cambs District Council.
The most common reason for supporting designation was wanting cleaner water in the Cam to reduce the health risks to swimmers and other water users.
The most common reason given for opposing designation, related to fears of significantly increased visitor numbers and that this would then damage precious habitats.
We share the concern to protect natural habitats, and much of our work is about preserving these. However, the fears of significantly increased numbers of visitors were in part due to rumours that the council would promote it as a visitor destination. These rumours are incorrect. Designation is simply about the health of bathers. There is absolutely no obligation to promote it as a visitor destination, so we are pleased that Councillor Sam Carling confirmed this several times during the meeting, and confirmed that the council has no intention of promoting it either.
Defra currently require us to submit 2 user surveys showing an average of at least 100 “bathers” on the 2 busiest days. Sheep’s Green has long been a popular bathing spot for communities across Cambridge, so our 2 surveys averaged more than 3 times this. However, as few people stay in the water long, we seldom saw more than 12 people in the water at a time.
We think this will have minimal impact on habitats, parks and nature reserves
A fox and paddleboarders watching each other at Sheep’s Green