Thames Water has been criticised after it emerged the water company has been deliberating pumping sewage into a historical stream in a popular Berkshire beauty spot.

Foudry Brook, close to the site of Roman ruins in Silchester, has been used by the water company as a location to deliberately release waste into the waterway which flows into the River Kennet.

The Berkshire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has said they are 'appalled' by the release of waste into the Foundry Brook south of Reading.

"Revelations in the media that sewage has been consistently and deliberately released into the Foudry Brook south of Reading confirms that pollution of our rivers and streams is one of the biggest problems facing the local countryside," they said.

The Reading Chronicle approached Thames Water for comment.

A Thames Water spokesperson said: “Taking action to improve the health of rivers is a key focus for us and our current investment programme, which is fully funded, will deliver major increases in treatment capacity at many of our sites.

"This includes a £17million upgrade of Burghfield sewage works, expected to be completed in 2025 and we’re currently upgrading our sewage works in Hungerford, Ascot and East Shefford as well as planning an upgrade to our site in Mortimer.

“Of course, what matters most is stopping the need for the discharges and we’ve committed £1.6 billion of investment in our sewage treatment works and sewers over the next two years. This will help us deliver our commitment to a 50% reduction in the total annual duration of discharges across London and the Thames Valley by 2030.

“In addition, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a £4 billion investment, is nearing completion and will capture 95% of the volume of untreated sewage currently entering the tidal Thames in a typical year.”

The releases of sewage into the Brook near the village of Stratfield Mortimer comes to light following the CPRE’s publication of its 2023 'Manifesto for Berkshire’s Countryside'.

The manifesto was written in the hopes of shaping political debate and discussion in the lead-up to the local council elections next month.

It highlighted water pollution as a key issue for Berkshire and urged council candidates to commit themselves to “working in partnership with the water companies to stop the release of sewage into our rivers and streams.”

The Foudry Brook, which is in the West Berkshire district council area and which flows into the River Kennet just west of Reading, is in an environmentally sensitive area of countryside and close to the archaeologically important Roman site of Silchester and several Bronze Age barrows.

Chairman of CPRE Berkshire, Greg Wilkinson said: “We are appalled by what is being done to the Foudry Brook.

"We cannot continue to allow the natural environment of the Royal County, and in particular the biodiversity of our beautiful countryside, to be ruined in this way.

"We are seeing too many examples of this happening.

“Alarmingly, this is far from being an isolated incident."

There have been multiple previous reports of sewage being released into the Foudry Brook and a stretch of the River Kennet. 

The stretches of water have been found to contain significant amounts of agricultural chemicals such as insecticides which may have drained into it from nearby farmland.

"This combination of sewage releases and accidental leakage of chemicals into our rivers is an absolute disgrace," Wilkinson added.

“I hope that councillors elected on May 4 will be able to work with the Environment Agency, the water and waste industry and with local farmers and landowners to find long-term solutions that will put a stop to this problem of pollution in our rivers and streams.”