Protection of the Hot Springs in Bath
The County of Avon Act gives Bath and North East Somerset Council powers to protect the natural thermal springs that arise under artesian pressure in the centre of Bath, from damage that could result from excavations, piling operations or bore holes in the Bath area.
The area covered by the Act can be viewed on this link to the map, the areas of protection form three concentric zones. Within these zones consent from the Council is required for excavations of depths below the surface of the natural ground, exceeding 5m in the central zone around the Hot Springs, 15m in the zone along the river valley, and 50m in the outer zone as shown on the map. These are labelled as zones A, B & C respectively on the map.
In response to applications for consent the Council consult with a consulting geologist and the Environment Agency and can refuse consent if in their opinion an operation is likely to cause injury to or affect in anyway the natural hot springs. Any disagreement between the Council and an applicant is to be determined by a (suitably qualified) geologist agreed by both parties or, in the case of a dispute, one appointed by the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
Application to the Magistrates’ Court can be made by the Council to halt an operation if any injury occurs to the springs or there is deemed to be a potential threat.
Any officer of the Council duly authorised under the Act can enter land to examine and inspect any works that are thought to have endangered the hot springs, including excavations, mining, borehole drilling and any form of below-ground-level activity.
A copy of the County of Avon Act Section 33 can be viewed using the link on the right hand side of this page.
Application for consent can be made using the form on the right hand side of this page. Any application needs to be supported with a plan indicating the location of the excavations/boreholes/piles, a detailed method statement and a risk assessment that demonstrates how any unintentional release of artesian or sub-artesian groundwater will be identified, controlled and permanently sealed.
The Council’s current scheme of delegation provides for decisions to be made by the Principal Building Control Surveyor (Thermal Springs Protection). When the Council’s Officer and the consultants are in agreement that consent can be issued this is given in the form of a conditional consent.