CAMPAIGNERS against water fluoridation in Hampshire are planning a fresh legal battle in the courts, the Daily Echo can reveal.
In the latest salvo of their long running battle, Hampshire Against Fluoridation (HAF) claim they have found a loophole which could block plans to add fluoride to tap water.
Despite losing a legal challenge last year, the group claim they could still yet stall plans to add the chemical to supplies for Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams.
HAF campaigner Professor Stephen Peckham said legal advice was now being sought into whether Public Health England (PHE) had to carry through the plans.
It inherited the controversial initiative to add fluoride from the South Central Strategic Health Authority which was unable to implement the scheme before its demise in March.
Professor Peckham claims that under legislation the PHE can only carry forward existing fluoridisation schemes.
He said: “In 2009 the strategic health authority proposed a water fluoridisation scheme and four years later there were no final details of what the scheme would be like.
“It seems to me a stretch of the imagination to call it an existing scheme. We know virtually nothing about what was proposed.”
He said that it was an idea rather than a scheme so the PHE were now under no obligation to introduce it.
The group would now be calling on PHE to drop the plan or it would launch a legal bid.
“We need support and backing from the council but also the public,” he added.
Both Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council have already expressed their fluoride concerns.
And in a separate development, new Department of Health guidelines, if approved, would allow councils to axe the scheme if residents are against it. This approval could be made later this year.
Details of the new HAF legal challenge emerged as an army of more than 100 protesters converged on Southampton Guildhall on Saturday.
They then marched through the city centre before rallying on the Solent University Centre in Above Bar Street to debate their future tactics.
They heard from campaigner Aisling Fitzgibbon who discussed a similar campaign in Ireland, which has the heaviest level of water fluoridation in Europe.
PHE did not comment on a legal challenge but said it was assuming responsibility for the implementation process of the water fluoridation scheme in Southampton and parts of southwest Hampshire area.
A spokesman said: “The approach used will be consistent with other water fluoridation schemes across the country, all of which will be managed by PHE. The local implementation process is ongoing and PHE will shortly start discussions with Southern Water.
“The technical feasibility study which was carried out before the 2008 consultation is being updated by Southern Water.
“The final report is not yet completed.”