SPEL Products                            WQR0003


Response to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) inquiry into water quality in rivers from SPEL UK Limited


Introduction - SPEL is a product manufacturer based in Shrewsbury and we provide quality products and systems for the storage, attenuation, monitoring, treatment and utilisation of surface water. We are known for our high performance SPEL fuel/oil Separators that meet the stringent European standard BS EN 858 which are exported worldwide.

We will only respond to questions 4, 7 and 8 from the inquiry as those are relevant to our experience.


  1. What is the impact of plastic pollution and other materials on drainage and water quality in rivers and what should be done to mitigate it?

Plastic pollution from tyre wear particles is recognised as one of the largest sources of microplastic pollution in rivers and oceans. It is known to come from road surfaces and to wash into rivers and streams when it rains. At SPEL we manufacture a range of stormwater treatment products that have been tested in accordance with internationally recognised test protocols. We know that our products can remove up to 80% of total suspended solids from road runoff and that includes the tyre wear particles.  Our products are manufactured in the UK and will reduce this pollution effectively. The maintenance of the devices is straight-forward and there are many experienced contractors available to complete this work. Where there is sufficient space, vegetative SuDS devices can be included downstream of the manufactured treatment device to provide further treatment and to protect the receiving watercourse. However, where there is not enough space for this option, our devices will reduce the pollution to an acceptable level. If is useful to the Committee we can provide indicative costs of treatment device in confidence.


  1. How effective are the planning policy and standards around sustainable drainage systems to reduce urban diffuse pollution in England?

The biggest problem we encounter is actually the inconsistency in the application of the planning policy and standards across the UK. Some Local Authorities have a well-established SuDS Team and execute their role as an LLFA effectively, questioning the water quality elements of SuDS design and pressing developers to install the relevant devices. But some Local Authorities have little or no resource to execute their LLFA role and they do not examine the water quality element of SuDS design, or ask developers to include the relevant treatment devices. This could be improved by extending the Non-Statutory Technical Standards to include more clauses relating to water quality, and referring back to compliance with the SuDS manual. The role of the Environment Agency also needs to be restored, and they should comment on Planning Applications as they used to; this would allow them to see and to comment on high-risk sites such as Petrol Filling Stations, warehouses with HGV parking & manoeuvring and busy roads so that they could uphold the requirements for spill risk management and pollution control. Because some LLFAs have few resources, some planning applications are being left with no assessment of the water quality aspects of SuDS designs and so the water environment will be left at risk of both chronic and acute pollution.


  1. Should local authorities and highways agencies be given a duty to prevent pollution to watercourses without prior treatment?

All public sector bodies have a statutory duty to prevent pollution from their assets already; there is no need to ‘give’ them a duty. They are short of funds to fulfil their responsibilities for sure, but the duty already exists. They need to identify which of their urban/highway outfalls are causing pollution and then identify a viable solution. The solutions can be expensive but if they are designed well, they can deliver multiple benefits, including habitats for wildlife, traffic calming, green-spaces for local residents, reduced flood risk, as well as pollution control. Enfield Council is an excellent example of installing ‘opportunistic’ SuDS when they are carrying out repairs or alterations to roads and pavements, so that the cost can be incorporated into the construction costs of the scheme; this makes the additional cost of the SuDS installation much more affordable. 

SPEL works closely with its entity in Australia and we have a lot of data and information from Australia on the effectiveness of manufactured treatment devices in the treatment of urban runoff. We would be happy to share that data and information with the Committee if it would be useful.


January 2021