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Alarm that ‘dangerously overloaded’ road will be used for new Anglian Water sewage works

Furious campaigners against a sewage works being moved to a Green Belt site on their doorstep have blasted an Anglian Water consultation on the project as “a sham”

The water company plans to move the current waste water treatment plant from Milton to unlock land for more than 5,600 homes as well as commercial space. Together with surrounding land owned by the city council, this will form part of the wider North East Cambridge development of about 8,000 homes.

A CGI of Anglian Water’s proposed water treaatment plant
A CGI of Anglian Water’s proposed water treaatment plant

But villagers in the Save Honey Hill campaign group say the move will destroy a beauty spot in the green belt near Horningsea. They have also raised concerns over the 20m-high sewage digester units and the estimated 140 HGV sludge lorry movements entering and exiting the site daily.

The route these lorries will take to the site was part of the consultation and campaigners say their objections to the lorries driving along a country lane - rather than building a dedicated turning off the A14 - have been ignored.

The campaigners’ spokesperson said: “Save Honey Hill is deeply disappointed in Anglian Water’s decision to choose junction 34 of the A14 with Horningsea Road as the access for the proposed new sewage works despite unanimous support from all bodies consulted to go with the option of a dedicated road from the lay-by on the north side of the A14.

Proposed design for the waste water treatment facility. Image: Anglian Water
Proposed design for the waste water treatment facility. Image: Anglian Water

“Our district and county councillors, parish councillors and member of Parliament all rejected the options of access from Horningsea Road and High Ditch Road.

“Ignoring this opinion makes the process of consultation appear to be a sham.”

Only 21 per cent of those who answered the consultation agreed that junction 34 of the A14 should be the entrance to the sewage works, whereas 71 per cent thought a new dedicated junction and road should be created at an existing layby to avoid the impact of the lorries travelling to and from the sewage works during construction.

Save Honey Hill campaigners warn the road between Horningsea and Fen Ditton is a minor rural route which they claim “is already dangerously overloaded” and that using this as the access route would add “all the traffic generated by three to four years of massive construction plus all the daily traffic in operation, including nearly 200 trucks per day, carrying sewage sludge (from other plants) or the by-products of sludge, in and out of the works.

“How can they think their option is any safer than putting in a slip road? I would like to see the evidence,” said their spokesperson.

However, an Anglian Water spokesperson said: “Our decision to progress option 1 (junction 34) as the access route for the new facility has been a difficult one, especially knowing what a sensitive and important issue this is for local residents.

“The consultation was not unanimous, and as well as considering community feedback, we took an evidence-led approach to the decision.

“National Highways and Cambridgeshire County Council are statutory highways consultees and opposed a new junction off of the A14, due to the risk of impeding traffic flow, and also highlighted safety concerns because of the proximity to existing junctions. The construction of a new junction off the strategic road network is contrary to Department for Transport policy, where viable alternatives are available, such as option one. This access route also has a lower carbon footprint, and less visual impact than option three, which were also important criteria in our decision making process.

“We will continue to work with the community ahead of the next phase of consultation to develop this option further, and ensure any impacts are minimised and managed, both during the construction phase and once the plant is operational.”

The consultation also heard concerns that the 26 metre tall sewage digester towers were too high. Anglian Water said: “We have therefore reviewed our engineering design… and can confirm that the anaerobic digesters will be no taller than a maximum of 20 metres.”

Honey Hill. Picture: Peter Halford
Honey Hill. Picture: Peter Halford

Campaigner Catherine Morris, of Horningsea, was unimpressed with this, explaining: “Twenty metres is still a massive tower in a flat fenland setting and this really doesn't make much difference but now they can claim they have listened to us. It should have been sunk underground, like virtually every other sewage works in existence.”

Given the height and mass of the sewage towers, Anglian Water consulted on how best to screen them from nearby residents. After many people complained about the effect of the towers on the landscape, Anglian Water has promised to give them “sky-like finishes” to “help minimise their visibility as the tallest elements of the facility.”

Mrs Morris added: “Are they going to paint it blue with some fluffy clouds on? It’s a bit of a joke. I think it is all complete balderdash. It’s laughable that they think the colour of the stack will make us happy.”

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