A number of constituents have contacted me about problems of insufficient infrastructure in their villages resulting in sewage and foul water rising up after heavy rainfall.

So I held a ‘summit' meeting earlier this month to discuss this issue.  Meeting at Brinsbury Campus, we heard from representatives of the villages affected - including Barnham, Sayers Commons and Pulborough - and the bodies involved in dealing with the problem, including Southern Water and the Environment Agency. 

I was very grateful that the Leader of Mid Sussex District Council, Garry Wall, the Leader of Horsham District Council, Ray Dawe, and the Deputy Leader of West Sussex County Council, Lionel Barnard, all attended.

And the Chief Executive of Southern Water, Matthew Wright, also attended in person - a sign that the company is taking these problems seriously.

It became obvious that there needs to be a mechanism to enable the concerns of parishes to be heard and the agencies to work together to fix the problem.  I asked that we hold a meeting again in six months' time to see what has been put in place and to ensure progress.

Rising sewage is the most unpleasant example of a wider problem - inadequate infrastructure to support new housing in our villages.  Over-subscribed schools and congested roads are also a concern.

I raised these issues in the Commons on Monday when I moved an amendment to the Growth & Infrastructure Bill to require planning authorities to identify that there is, or will be, sufficient infrastructure to support new development in their plans.

While there was no vote on this occasion, the number of MPs who signed and spoke up sent a clear message to the Government that our concern about this issue us widely shared.

The Planning Minister pledged to consider "very clear" guidance on the "need to plan positively and specifically for infrastructure."  This is progress - but I will not let this issue drop.

The Government's definition of 'sustainable' development is 'ensuring that better lives for ourselves don't mean worse lives for future generations'.  This means that we should not deny young people the chance we've had to own our properties.

But it also means taking care not to damage the countryside.  And at the very least, it means ensuring that where new housing is needed, there is adequate infrastructure to support it.

Christopher N Howarth