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Anglian Water told to explain river ban bid

Proposals to relocate Cambridge’s sewage works could lead to the rights to sail or row along part of the River Cam permanently removed, a hearing was told.

Anglian Water has asked for navigation rights on the river to be “permanently extinguished” at an area around the sewage outfall for a new wastewater treatment plant between Horningsea and Fen Ditton.

CGI of Anglian Water proposed water treatment plant Picture: Keith Heppell
CGI of Anglian Water proposed water treatment plant Picture: Keith Heppell

A preliminary hearing took place to discuss the proposed move of the current Cambridge sewage plant at Cowley Road in the city to a green belt site, called Honey Hill.

It was revealed during the hearing on last Wednesday that there is no such navigation ban at the outfall into the river for the current site and inspectors have asked Anglian Water to explain.

The water company has said it will reply in writing before a full hearing into the proposed move, which should take place within the next six months.

Helen Cleary, of Conservators of the River Cam, said that the proposal to remove navigation rights on part of the river around the sewage outfall was “of significant concern to us”.

She said: “Our biggest concern is navigational rights, and protecting the navigation users and our enforcement rights. So in terms of this, being accurate with wording around permanent extinguishment of our powers, and rights to navigate in this area, it would be extremely important for us to understand it and be able to engage legally on it, because it’s our statutory responsibility to maintain that navigation as well as the impact on its environment.”

The issue was raised by planning inspectors at the initial hearing, which was held at the Hilton Hotel in Cambridge on October 18 and 19.

Referring to a document submitted by Anglian Water to the development consent order hearing, the lead planning inspector asked: “ If it allows the permanent extinguishment of rights, then what subsequent implications would there be for users of the river and navigation?”

A representative for Anglian Water clarified that this referred to an area around the proposed new sewage outfall. He said “the applicant is seeking powers to effectively build a structure within the Cam” and that “once that structure is there and constructed navigation along with that particular part of the Cam will not be possible and therefore the purpose of (the document) is to permanently extinguish any rights that might subsist to navigation across that section of the Cam, which will be permanently acquired following the construction the outflow”.

Planners heard that the navigation rights would be cancelled halfway across the river around the site.

On learning that there was no such ruling for the existing sewage outfall the inspector told Anglian Water’s representative: “Perhaps following on from this question, you could go away and think about it. Come back as to why you’re seeking those particular rights.”

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