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Save Honey Hill residents’ group: ‘We’ll fight on over relocation of Anglian Water sewage works’



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The Save Honey Hill residents’ group has said relocating the Cambridge sewage works to their area is “not a done deal” despite Anglian Water announcing it as the preferred location.

The water company announced last Thursday (January 28) a proposal to relocate the Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant to a site north of the A14, between the villages of Fen Ditton, Horningsea and Stow-cum-Quy.

Anglian Water’s existing waste water treatment works in north Cambridge
Anglian Water’s existing waste water treatment works in north Cambridge

The decision follows a public consultation process on three shortlisted sites - the other two were north of the A14 and west of the A10, between Milton, Impington and Landbeach.

The government has allocated up to £227million to Anglian Water and Cambridge City Council to relocate the water treatment plant and use the existing site to build a new North East Cambridge district, containing 8,000 homes plus commercial and public space.

Anglian Water has said it will now carry out further community engagement in the chosen area, and work up more detailed proposals for further public consultation, before submitting an application to the national Planning Inspectorate.

The Save Honey Hill campaign group says the chosen area is a “beautiful unspoilt green belt site,” and have campaigned on a slogan of “Don’t turn Honey Hill into Poo Corner”.

A leading campaigner in the group, Catherine Morris, of High Street, Horningsea, said Anglian Water’s announcement was “a real kick in the stomach”.

But she added: “This is by no means a done deal as far as we are concerned.

“The Save Honey Hill campaign is not going to roll over and take this lying down.

“We have some very committed campaign members and we expect lots more people to join now. We are confident that we can put up a good fight”.

Mrs Morris said she believes none of the three relocation site options were “great choices,” and says the site near her home is “the most unsuitable of the three”.

“I feel downhearted. It’s come at a time when there is not much good news anyway,” she said of the decision, but added “if I’m being honest, it wasn’t a surprise”.

Anglian Water has selected Site 3, between Fen Ditton and Horningsea, as the proposed site for its new waste water treatment plant
Anglian Water has selected Site 3, between Fen Ditton and Horningsea, as the proposed site for its new waste water treatment plant

Anglian Water completed a public consultation last year where it asked residents if they supported the relocation, and if so, which of the three identified sites they would prefer.

The results showed that a majority of the participants, 52 per cent, believe site three, the Honey Hill site, to be the “most suitable” relocation site.

But Mrs Morris said the other locations were closer to larger population centres, which may explain the higher number of objections from elsewhere, and that a more important finding from the consultation shows a majority are against moving the facility at all.

“Anglian Water has said the relocation project is not an operational necessity,” she said, and considering the changes brought by the pandemic, the existing strain on water resources in the area, and the initial consultation results, she is arguing Anglian Water and all involved should think again.

The consultation results showed 27 per cent of participants either supported or strongly supported relocating the waste water treatment works, 53 per cent either did not support or strongly opposed relocation, and 20 per cent were neither supportive or unsupportive.

Ms Morris and her fellow campaigners also intend to challenge the suitability of the location on a number of environmental grounds.

Liberal Democrat Claire Daunton, who represents the area on the district council, said: “This news is deeply disappointing for people living in Horningsea, Fen Ditton, Stow-cum-Quy, Teversham and villages beyond. Residents have very well-founded fears about how a new waste water treatment plant on this site could impact on their lives.

“I will be working with residents, parish councils and the existing campaign groups to challenge Anglian Water on this decision. The information and evidence provided by Anglian Water to justify the decision needs very close scrutiny.

“Anglian Water claims that the new plant will be much better than the existing works, with minimal odour impacts and environmental improvements. I need to see much more evidence that this is possible.”

Anglian Water’s existing waste water treatment works in north Cambridge
Anglian Water’s existing waste water treatment works in north Cambridge

Conservative councillor Graham Cone, who also represents the area on the district council, said he believes it is right to use the current waste water treatment works site to build new housing, but that he is “disappointed” in Anglian Water’s decision on the preferred choice for its relocation.

He said: “I have been clear throughout the consultation that my preference was site two, which is the site in Milton, but going forward I’m happy to work constructively with South Cambridgeshire District Council and Anglian Water to get the best outcome for residents.”

He added: “I am disappointed the Liberal Democrat administration chose to sit on the fence during the first consultation and not come out in favour of one of the three sites.”

Relocating the waste water treatment works to open up the current site for development is backed by both Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council. Neither have come out for or against a specific location, and both councils reacted to Anglian Water’s decision on a preferred site by urging residents to get involved in the next stages of the design and planning process, as the Cambridge Independent has reported.

The leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, Liberal Democrat councillor Bridget Smith, said she understood there will be “concern and many questions for local communities” over Anglian Water’s decision, but said this is “only one step in the process”.

She said the councils have a “long-standing ambition to realise the opportunities for developing an exemplar low-carbon city district at North East Cambridge which will be enabled by relocation of the plant,” and that they expect to work with Anglian Water going forward to understand how it will meet the various environmental objectives the councils envisage for the new facility.

Anglian Water says the relocation plan offers a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a modern, carbon-neutral waste water treatment plant for Cambridge and the surrounding area”.

The three shortlisted sites for relocation - Site 3, between Fen Ditton and Horningsea has been chosen by Anglian Water
The three shortlisted sites for relocation - Site 3, between Fen Ditton and Horningsea has been chosen by Anglian Water

It said a team of experts concluded the land between Fen Ditton, Horningsea and Stow-cum-Quy is the “most appropriate location” following “extensive public consultation last year, and a series of rigorous environmental, community, planning, operational, and economic assessments”.

The head of the Cambridge Relocation Consultation for Anglian Water, Karen Barclay said when announcing the decision that the company is working in partnership with the councils to unlock the development potential of the current waste water treatment work site.

She said: “Anglian Water’s ambition for this considerable engineering endeavour goes far beyond building a new plant. It is vital we explain this isn’t simply moving an old facility to a new location. This is the creation of an entirely new, modern facility that will be surrounded by carefully created habitat for wildlife, along with opportunities to connect and improve access to the countryside”.

“Each of the three shortlisted sites identified as potential locations during the initial consultation process presented their own unique opportunities and constraints,” she said, adding “an expert team has applied a very rigorous site selection process, as well as taking on board all consultation feedback from community members, local businesses and stakeholders before making a final decision.”

The relocation plan is considered a nationally significant infrastructure project, meaning it will not go through the usual council planning process, and instead Anglian Water will be seeking a Development Consent Order (DCO), which will require an application to the national Planning Inspectorate. The DCO submission is expected in 2022 or 2023. Residents can notify the Planning Inspectorate now if they wish to be considered an “interested party” and receive information and have an opportunity to make representations.

Read more

Anglian Water reveals its proposed site for new waste water treatment plant serving Cambridge region

Council leaders back Anglian Water’s vision for new waste water treatment plant to unlock North East Cambridge development

Cambridge sewage treatment plans cause a three-way stink

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