Press Release June 2021

Save Honey Hill’s response to the announcement of Anglian Water’s Phase Two Consultation for the Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant Relocation (CWWTPR) project

Members of the Save Honey Hill (SHH) Campaign Group made up of residents from the villages of Fen Ditton, Horningsea, Quy and Teversham have spent the last few days evaluating Anglian Water’s consultation pamphlet which dropped on 24th June.

The villages, in particular Horningsea and Fen Ditton, are being asked to take a huge ‘hit’ in accommodating this relocation project.  The footprint of the proposed site is as big as that of each of the conservation villages of Horningsea and Fen Ditton.  It represents a devastating and monstrous imposition and detriment to our village communities and their existing enjoyment and way of life.  Anglian Water should be duty bound to deliver on all fronts in a way that goes above and beyond to minimise the impact and maintain the status quo as much as possible.

Residents are unconvinced by the scant detail provided by Anglian Water (AW) in its consultation pamphlet and fact sheets.  None of the technical reports on which AW’s claims are based are available for scrutiny.  To give an example, with regards to visual impact and mitigation, AW gives nothing away regarding the height of the bund and additional screen on top which it says will contain the works.  The illustrations are misleading as they suggest only a small portion of the 26 metre anaerobic digesters will be visible above the earthwork bank1.  Campaigners believe it is highly possible that about 50% will be visible from much of the surrounding areas.

Serious concerns remain regarding AW’s claims around minimising odour.  AW says it is committed to delivering the lowest ‘negligible’ impact of odour in line with the Institute of Air Quality Management despite its poor record at the existing Cowley Road site.  SHH demands on behalf of residents that AW demonstrates what ‘negligible’ means by taking village representatives to other facilities where odour is dealt with in a like for like way.  SHH demands that AW uses technology that eradicates completely the possibility of odour but where it is proven first.

AW makes much of its commitment to improving access to green spaces creating new footpaths and bridleways to open up recreational access to the area.  SHH does not believe that anyone will consider the new sewage works a desirable destination or recreational amenity that can rival in any way what already exists on this stretch of green belt.  It is worth noting that AW’s own graphic in the consultation document shows the predicted odour outline and the impact that has on all the landscaping it is proposing to include.  SHH argues that the predicted odour generated will have the opposite effect and ensure the site deprives people of their established access to fresh air and exercise.

AW is very keen to bestow the net zero carbon virtues of its new plant.  On the basis, of AW’s own figures at least 1,000,000 tonnes of concrete will be delivered to the site during the construction phase.  This equates to approximately 80,000,000 kg of CO2 raising the question how long will the plant need to exist before it clears its debt to climate change and the environment?  AW states that “the facility is being designed and will be constructed to make an allowance for future growth that is planned to occur….up to at least the year 2050”.  Bearing in mind this plant will not be operational till 2028 (provided construction comes in on time), this provides longevity of just 20 years!

Of the three options for access points to the site which have been put forward for consideration, only Option 3 is acceptable to any of the village communities affected by this relocation.  Option 3 would see the creation of a new dedicated junction on the north side of the A14.  Campaigners and residents will only accept a plan that keeps both construction and operational traffic away from communities.

Catherine Morris, Horningsea resident and Save Honey Hill Campaigner, says “If we are to get anywhere close to accepting this relocation, we must be to all intents and purposes oblivious to the existence of all associated traffic.  Options 1 and 2 will create a hugely negative impact on the already busy, narrow, ill-equipped local B class roads namely High Ditch Road and Horningsea Road.  In the case of Horningsea Road, access to the site here would see our cycle path for children getting to school and adults alike compromised by over 300 extra vehicle movements a day during construction most of which will be HGVs delivering concrete to the site.  Once operational, the site will attract an estimated 146 HGV movements a day plus light worker traffic (( CWWTPR 2021-Site-Announcement-Webinars-FAQ-Summary Q1 Traffic and Transport section https://cwwtpr.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/CWWTPR-Site-Announcement-Webinars-FAQ-Summary.pdf )) .”  Incidentally, these are also the roads that all the pedestrians and cyclists AW believes will want to visit the site for recreational purposes, will need to travel along to access the site.  Mrs Morris adds “It is farcical to be suggesting the use of these country roads for such a large amount of heavy traffic trundling alongside the general public who Anglian Water think will be wishing to visit the Discovery Centre or ‘new woodland, species-rich grassland meadow and hedgerows’.  It beggars belief that AW is suggesting tens of HGV sludge lorries a day can exist in harmony with either the landscape setting it is promoting or the people who it says will want to visit it.”

“It is farcical to be suggesting the use of these country roads for such a large amount of heavy traffic trundling alongside the general public who Anglian Water think will be wishing to visit the Discovery Centre”

The proposed Discovery Centre is designed as an educational resource so that children can learn about the importance of water, water recycling processes and its vital role in supporting the environment.  In October 2020, The Guardian reported that AW came third in a table of water companies responsible for their worst levels of environmental pollution in five years in 20192.  The article states that ‘48 serious pollution incidents took place at sewerage facilities, more than half of which were from Anglian and Thames Water assets.’  Is this who we trust to teach our children about such a fundamentally important resource?

It remains the case that AW has no operational need to move the sewage works ((letter from Environment Agency 22 March 2019 “NECAAP Issues and Options Consultation”)), and that the current site at Cowley Road has sufficient capacity to meet the growing demands of development in Cambridge for the foreseeable future ((Environment Journal July (2016)
https://environmentjournal.online/articles/cambridges-water-recycling-centre-looks-future/ )).  The Combined Authority (Cambridge City and South Cambs County Councils) is requiring that AW moves in order to provide a much sought-after brownfield site on which to build houses.  After the Chesham and Amersham by-election Boris Johnson said “What we want is (sic) sensible plans to allow development on brownfield sites.  We’re not going to build on greenbelt sites. We’re not going to build all over the countryside.”  (( https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-chesham-amersham-by-election-b1868492.html)). The chosen location for AW’s new plant totally flies in the face of this statement.

Save Honey Hill remains committed to stopping the relocation and to challenging all applications and projects for developments in the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan (NECAAP) which may influence the relocation.

Save Honey Hill Group is organising Covid friendly events throughout July and August by providing information points at key locations as follows:

  • Fen Ditton Church, Saturday 3rd July 10am – 4.30pm
  • Quy Fen layby, north of Horningsea, Sunday 11th July 10am – 4.30pm
  • Fen Ditton Church, Sunday 18th July 10am – 4.30pm
  • Scotsdales Garden Centre, Horningsea, Saturday 24th July 10am – 4.30pm
  • Fen Ditton Church, Saturday 7th August 10am – 4.30pm
  • Barracuda Fish and Chips, Ditton Lane, Saturday 14th August 5.30pm – 8pm

Readers are kindly invited to read more and/or donate to the campaign.

 

 

  1. https://cwwtpr.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/210616_Anglian-Water-CL-A4-AW-LOW-RES.pdf []
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/02/water-firms-england-criticised-rising-environmental-pollution []

“I used to think how important, socially, the network of paths linking the four villages must have been in the past”

“We moved to Fen Ditton in 1970 with two small children.  The following summer my parents came down and ‘borrowed’ the kids for a weekend.  That was an unexpected sudden release from responsibility.  We had got to know the surrounding countryside and so headed to Honey Hill as a place for celebrating freedom and spending a warm, low-budget evening.
 
In those pre A14 days there was no bridge, just the dusty Low Fen Drove bending through the flat landscape with a perspective consisting of backdrops behind backdrops, avenues of trees, thick thorny hedges and rush fringed ditches.
 
When I was playing cricket for Quy, I would cycle that way, down High Ditch Road, along the drove way, up the old railway line and into the village past the Hall.  Sometimes I remember taking my little boy and my cricket bag in the basket of an old butcher’s bike.  The journey home after the match into the sunset, singing victoriously, was memorable – picking up a bottle of cider at The Blue Lion as we got back to Fen Ditton.
 
One sunny Christmas Day, at a time when we were looking after an old nag (which resembled an armchair) and an escapologist pony, we took the kids for a ride round Honey Hill.  Our dog, an unruly mongrel, unsuccessfully chased a hare over two fields and a ditch.
 
That same dog used to accompany me on runs on slippery winter days down round the drove way to Biggin Abbey and back home.  As he got older he was less inclined to do this until eventually, one afternoon, he turned his back on me and made his own way home the way we had come.
 
Another occasion involving the dog and the boy was when, due to adverse conditions, we adopted the procedure known as ‘walkies in the motor’ – so in a blizzard, headlamps on full beam, we tried to follow the mongrel from the comfort of the car.  The old grey Renault slid sideways into a ditch near Snout’s Corner.  It was difficult to persuade the AA that the location was accessible and the car retrievable.
 
After gales, I would sometimes search in the thickets up there for fallen boughs to scavenge as firewood.  One day, Major Francis, from Quy Hall, confronted me, thinking I was a poacher or other reprobate.  We later became good friends.  Once, when we needed stakes for a village tree planting campaign, he invited us to make these from saplings cut from along the old railway line.
 
I used to think how important, socially, the network of paths linking the four villages must have been in the past.   Maybe their development had been encouraged by the Bishops of Ely, in times gone by, to combat in-breeding in the communities.  They must also have provided ways to work for that considerable number of farm workers which lived in each village.
 
When the Covid lockdowns started, early in 2020, we rediscovered these pathways and found them so attractive and benign that we mapped them as a guide for others.  I suppose we trespassed a bit on these wanderings but I do remember a picnic lunch by a grass covered brick bridge not far off Low Fen Drove during which the spirit was definitely lifted well clear of those miserable times.  Also picking blackberries at Snout’s Corner with the distant hum of traffic muffled by the sound of the wind in the trees strengthens one’s love for the place.
 
I offer these reminiscences to demonstrate what this area of simple countryside has meant to one person, living beside it for the best part of a lifetime. It’s the purpose of the Green Belt – to provide the city and its surrounding villages with a peaceful, pastoral, restorative resource.  It is tragic to think that if this area comes to be dominated by a massive offensive and repulsive sewage plant, these types of life-affirming experiences, on our doorstep, will never be available again.”
 
 
Many thanks to David Yandell, long time resident of Fen Ditton and exponent of the importance of preserving this valuable local amenity.

Lib Dems have let us down!

Emailed to Councillors Anna Bradnam, Judith Rippeth, Hazel Smith, Claire Daunton, John Williams and Paul Bearpark

1st April 2021

Dear All

I have just collected your flier from my post box and am aghast and devastated to see that despite purporting to represent Horningsea and Fen Ditton in the Waterbeach Division, there is not one mention of the single most impactful event to face our communities in the 30 years I have lived here.

It is shameful that there is not one mention of the highly controversial proposed relocation of the Cambridge sewage works to Honey Hill.  I am appalled that you can ignore this horrendous threat to our Green Belt, wildlife, local roads and quality of life for our village communities.

Horningsea in particular faces the prospect of having the sewage works just outside our village boundary to the south and the overdevelopment of Waterbeach Barracks to the north.  We are a tiny village sandwiched in the middle of two horrendous developments and all the associated traffic that will undoubtedly result.  Every day as I sit at my desk I witness the speeding traffic along the High Street coming from and going to Waterbeach, the near misses and the constant mounting of the pavement to avoid oncoming traffic.

The Liberal Democrats sat on the fence during the CWWTPR Phase One Consultation period and continue to offer no meaningful support for our communities as we face the juggernaut that is the NECAAP development driving forward the sewage works relocation.

Please don’t try and placate me with ‘the need for housing……..’ – you and I well know that NECAAP will not address the general need for affordable and social housing in the Cambridge area because building cannot begin at Cowley Road until at least 2028.  An urgent review of this development is required in light of living and working requirements post Covid – the existing plan is already out of date as evidence suggests people are already wanting to live in less densely populated, less urban areas where air and noise pollution are high.  Enough land has been submitted in the recent Call for Sites to build 220,000 homes – you should be calling for a review immediately to determine whether more suitable sites can be found from this list to meet the housing supply target.  The Call for Sites totally brings in to question the ’special need’ required to build on the Green Belt at Honey Hill.

I look forward to your comments.

Sincerely

Catherine Morris

Statements from candidates for the Waterbeach and Fulbourn Division in the Cambridgeshire County Council elections

Letter to James Bull, Labour candidate for County Councillor

Email sent to James Bull, Labour Candidate for County Councillor in the upcoming local elections on May 6th 2021 – 

29.3.2021

Dear Mr Bull

I have just received the Labour News flyer promoting your election as County Councillor.  I am writing to let you know that you will not be getting my vote for the simple reason that you have completely ignored the single biggest threat my village of Horningsea is facing and that is the relocation of the Cambridge’s Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) to just outside our village boundary at Honey Hill.

How you could include Horningsea in your remit without referencing this devastating decision is incredible and I would welcome your comments on this point.

I would also be very pleased to receive your comments regarding the relocation project itself which as you will know is being driven by the NECAAP development.  Anglian Water (AW) have many times stated there is no operational need to move the plant; in fact back in 2015 the current site was upgraded at considerable expense to ‘future proof it for decades to come’.  AW have been very clear that the relocation is necessitated purely by the City and County Councils desire to develop the brownfield site for housing, retail and business space which means that Green Belt must be sacrificed.  In light of the huge shift in living and working habits as a result of Covid, there is a growing belief that this should be paused and reassessed.  I would argue that with all the other proposed development planned for the Cambridge area which includes Waterbeach Barracks, Six Mile Bottom, Cherry Hinton, Marleigh to name a few, our housing needs can be more than adequately satisfied without moving the sewage works.

Your flyer headline states ‘Wildlife haven is wrong site to build on” referring to Bannold Drove fields which are prone to flooding.  Well, Honey Hill is our wildlife haven and although it is not prone to flooding, it is located on a Principal Chalk Aquifer defined by DEFRA’s Magic Maps as High Risk to Groundwater Contamination.  AW have said on a number of occasions that cost and geology prevents the associated structures of a WWTP being sunk as they are at most other sewage plants – this is of huge concern to us on a visual level but also an environmental one.  Do you agree that this site is unsuitable for a Waste Water Treatment Plant?

Yours sincerely

Catherine Morris
Save Honey Hill Campaigner

Let’s see if I get a response!!

Letter to Feargal Sharkey

Letter to Feargal Sharkey

12 February 2021

Feargal Sharkey

By email

Via Terry Macalister

Dear Feargal

Isn’t life the darndest?  If someone had said to me back in 1978, as a fifteen-year-old girl watching you perform Teenage Kicks on Top of the Pops, that I’d be writing to you 43 years later about chalk streams and chalk aquifers, I’d have said they were off their trolley!

But there we are, life offers up many twists and never quite turns out how you might expect.  And that is where I and the village on the outskirts of Cambridge where I live, find ourselves….in a position now where we are faced with the prospect of Cambridge’s wastewater treatment (sewage) plant being relocated to our doorstep, slap bang in the middle of our endangered Green Belt.

What, you are asking yourself, has this got to do with you?  Well, not only is the proposed location for Anglian Water’s (AW) Wastewater Treatment Plant relocation just a few hundred metres from my village boundary on Green Belt between the villages of Horningsea and Fen Ditton (NNE of Cambridge), at a site popularly known as Honey Hill.  It is also a piece of land which according to Defra’s Magic Maps, is a Principal Chalk Aquifer with high risk (red alert) to groundwater contamination. AW themselves admitted at a recent webinar that the aquifer is a mere 5 metres below the surface meaning that all of the associated structures that would normally be sunk below ground cannot be, leaving us with multiple 26-metre-high tanks to look at in what is an extremely flat, open and exposed landscape.  The visual impact of this is obvious but what is of more concern to me personally and I hope to you, is the very real and impending danger this siting poses to the aquifer if, as is highly likely over time either through degradation of the site or manmade accident, contaminant seeps down in to it.  I should also say at this point, that the proposed site is a stone’s throw from Quy Fen, a site of special scientific interest and the lay of the land is such that any said contamination that might occur would flow downhill towards Horningsea, Quy Fen and a number of local residents who still get their water from wells.

Now I don’t need to tell you anything about chalk aquifers, streams and the River Cam – I attended your recent webinar and if it wasn’t so shocking and scary, I could say I enjoyed it immensely.  It was clear, concise, straight-talking and you certainly didn’t sugar coat the dire situation we find ourselves in here in our region with regard to our chalk streams and the Rivers Cam and Granta.  You know far more than I about these matters which I am hoping will lead you to the conclusion that you must in whatever way you can offer up some advice or comment that we can maybe use to our advantage here in our upcoming battle to stop this relocation.

Because a battle of huge proportions it will indeed be.  The momentum already behind this project feels slightly overwhelming as our campaign group (Save Honey Hill) grapples with the enormity of the task at hand.  At a meeting last night, we formally agreed that our focus must be to stop AW from relocating to Honey Hill whilst in parallel working to mitigate against it if we fail.  The driver for this relocation is the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan (NECAAP), a development being pushed forward by the City and County Councils to provide what they say is much needed housing and commercial/office space.  This development was conceived long before Covid and many people in Cambridge now believe this development along with many others which are being steamrollered through, should be paused and reassessed in light of the change to our working and living practices post-Covid.  There is a growing sense, thanks in no small part to your campaign I believe, that Cambridge cannot sustain the huge amount of development that is being thrust upon it; I learned last night that we already have to have water from the Midlands pumped in to keep up with current demand.

And so, to conclude, I am writing to you in the hope that you might feel able to get in touch in some way to offer your support to our campaign.  I don’t really know what else I can hope to ask of you but if there is anything you can offer that you think might be useful to our cause it would be an incredible boost to receive.

Yours sincerely

Catherine Morris

Horningsea Resident and Save Honey Hill Campaigner

 

Still awaiting a response.