Honey Hill lies next to the A14 between the villages of Horningsea, Fen Ditton and Quy on the north east outskirts of Cambridge City. Accessed from Horningsea Road (B1047) to its west or from High Ditch Road, Fen Ditton and Low Fen Drove (across the A14) from the south, Honey Hill makes a popular circular route for walkers and cyclists alike. Being a short distance from Baits Bite Lock over the River Cam and in the shadow of historic Biggin Abbey, Cambridge folk can quickly and easily access this seemingly remote and bucolic environment with its close links to Quy Fen (a site of special scientific interest).
The Site Area identified for relocation of CWWTP in the vicinity of Honey Hill is extensive at 127ha1. The A14 shapes the southern boundary, it extends down from Honey Hill to the B1047, runs along the length of the B1047 then behind the conservation village of Horningsea.
The exact location of the plant within the Site Area was unknown at the stage of the CWWTPR Phase One consultation2. However, the CWWTPR Phase Two consultation shows the plant site as indicated in the map above3. The plant area can be seen to be equivalent in size to the village of Horningsea and in such close proximity it is likely to swamp it. The Site Area lies within land identified for the National Trust’s Wicken Fen Vision which will form the southern boundary on the edge of Cambridge and access gateway for residents of Cambridge City and surrounding villages4. It is hoped it will become part of one of the most important rewilding of wetlands projects in the UK. It is important to create a ‘wildlife corridor’ for such rewilding to be successful. Therefore, this cannot simply move to a different location in the same way that a waste water treatment plant can.
The area is home to a host of wildlife, perhaps most notably rare solitary bees5 and it is definitely not unusual to see a herd of deer grazing alongside hare, fox and badger. There is great concern for the local bat population due to the threat that a sewage plant with its associated lighting at night would pose.
Cambridge Past Present and Future (CPPF) in partnership with the local Wildlife Trust and other conservation groups, has identified the area as part of its Nature Recovery Network for Cambridge as a way to provide a linked haven for wildlife but also a place for our growing population to reap the physical and mental health benefits associated with nature and the outdoors6.
According to Magic Maps (DEFRA), Honey Hill covers an area which is high risk to groundwater contamination. It sits on a Principal Chalk Aquifer that is unprotected by a gault clay layer7
Honey Hill is in the Green Belt which is designed to protect a city from urban sprawl and should not be built on unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Anglian Water has said that the move is not operationally necessary8. They upgraded the existing plant in 2015 at a cost of over £20m, to future-proof it until 20509. Building there will arguably set a precedent for more development in the future.
- CWWTPR Stage 4 Main Report 2021 https://cwwtpr.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/CWWTPR-Stage-4-Final-Site-Selection-Main-Report.pdf
- CWWTPR Phase One Consultation https://cwwtpr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Phase-one-consultation-leaflet.pdf
- National Trust Wicken Fen Vision (2009)
- “Honey Hill RA1 hymenoptera list” Stephen Boulton August 2020 – https://beekeepersgarden.wordpress.com/2020/08/22/honey-hill-ra1-hymenoptera-list/
- Cambridge Nature Network (March 2021)
- Magic Maps (DEFRA
- letter from Environment Agency 22 March 2019 “NECAAP Issues and Options Consultation”
- “Upgrade for Anglian Water’s Cambridge Recycling plant”