100% Cotton takes Honey Hill to the Edinburgh Fringe

Save Honey Hill’s resident comedy songstress/genius, Liz Cotton, is currently wowing audiences (again!) at The Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh during its arguably most distinguished month of August. If you happen to be up that way, her show Last Stand on Honey Hill offers a very personal, hilarious take on what is otherwise, of course, a very serious situation for all of us. And if you like cats, this is definitely for you!

https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/event/14:4584/

Cambridge City Council’s conflict of interest statement

Cambridge City Council issued a statement on its website yesterday.

The Save Honey Hill team is glad to hear that any profit from land sale would go into affordable housing – hopefully as part of the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan (NECAAP) where it could benefit local people1.

You can read more about the planned development at the core site (Anglian Water’s current site at Cowley Road) on the Hartree website.


  1. https://www.greatercambridgeplanning.org/emerging-plans-and-guidance/north-east-cambridge-area-action-plan/ []

June 3rd Town and U+I – wolves in sheep’s clothing at Strawberry Fair

It would appear that the core site at NECAAP has undergone a rebranding.  Town and U+I had a stall at Strawberry Fair today where they were proudly showcasing the plans for ‘Hartree’.

Here are some of the visuals on display:

For me what really stuck in the gullet was the one titled ‘A Day at Hartree’ which looks at possible future resident profiles.  It talks about key workers alongside couples who have moved from London alongside ‘global citizens’ from other countries.  I wonder if key workers really will be able to afford these apartments, and if it is attracting couples from London and further afield, how can the development be addressing the housing shortage that locals are experiencing.

I spoke to one of the people manning the stall who said that the sewage works relocation and Hartree are two completely separate projects while in the same breath saying that without the sewage works moving the development wouldn’t be able to go ahead.  He refused to accept they are linked and we had to agree to disagree in the end but it was all relatively good humoured debate. 

I also pointed out that they were stretching it to describe the development as good for the planet, “an exemplar for development fit for the challenges for the 21st Century, enabling sustainable lifestyles, enhancing nature and accelerating the transition to a net zero carbon world.”  I pointed out that they were being, at best, disingenuous and that in no way can this development be described as exemplary development fit for the blah! blah! if it depends on moving a fully functioning sewage works (one that was ‘future-proofed’ a few years back to the tune of over £20m) to Green Belt, arable farmland and pouring millions of tonnes of concrete onto a principal chalk aquifer into the bargain.

Anyways, if you have the opportunity to put anyone straight on the development and what the consequences are, I hope some of this helps with your argument.

Catherine Morris

Letter to the Cambridge Independent in response to the Planning Inspectorate’s Advice Notes to Anglian Water.

18th May 2023

Dear Reader

In response to this paper’s article dated Wednesday, 17th May 2023, which sheds a glaring spotlight on Anglian Water’s sloppy planning application to relocate its wastewater treatment plant at Cowley Road to Honey Hill, the Save Honey Hill team would like to thank the Cambridge Independent and, in particular, Alex Spencer, for bringing this to the public’s attention.

The article made for stark reading when you consider the consequences of this huge nationally significant infrastructure project and the equally huge £227 million that Anglian Water has been allocated to pay for the relocation.

This project is about a billion-pound private water company profiteering from a move that will release land that can then be called brownfield and sold off to developers for a huge sum that its shareholders will pocket whilst the taxpayer foots the bill for the move.

The Save Honey Hill campaign has long held the opinion that due diligence has not been given to the environmental impact of said move nor to the option of the sewage plant staying where it is and, if necessary, simply being upgraded. According to the Advice Notes published by the Planning Inspectorate, the planning inspectors clearly agree.  It is the validation that we are very happy to receive, but we are not so naïve as to think the story ends there.

We will continue to press home, at every opportunity, the many wrongs of this aspiration held by Anglian Water, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and undoubtedly the university colleges who own some of the land adjacent to the Cowley Road site.

We will also continue to press home that NECAAP (North East Cambridge Area Action Plan) is not in fact sustainable because in the Local Plan there is no mention of requiring the sewage plant to move to open, arable farmland in Green Belt near Horningsea, Fen Ditton and Quy, and no mention of the associated carbon cost of doing so.  This is plainly wrong and not what the people of Cambridge and the surrounding area deserve. It is a greenwashing exercise of the highest order compounded by the fact that as the Planning Inspectorate has pointed out in its Advice Notes, “…given the focus in the application document on providing a carbon efficient wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), consideration should be given to the inclusion of a comparative assessment for reasonable alternatives, including the ‘do-nothing’ option or the provision of the upgrade at the existing WWTP. Without these the environmental benefits of the proposed development are unclear.”

Your readers are also invited to consider that producing these Development Consent Order (DCO) application documents in the first place will have made a sizeable dent in the taxpayer-funded budget Anglian Water is working to. To have ignored the PI’s initial advice that its Environmental Impact Assessment report should include the demolition of the site and to omit it from its DCO application, shows a level of either arrogance or amateurism that is incredibly disturbing when this company is being tasked with building a massive new piece of infrastructure.

But then is this such a surprise?

Anglian Water is one of a number of water companies in the UK which is regularly fined for not doing its job properly. Its business (excuse the pun) is to treat and deal with our sewage in a safe and responsible way. Time and time again we see the evidence all around our coastline and in our rivers that it is not capable of providing that fundamental service and I can only draw the same conclusion when it comes to this relocation project. It doesn’t need to relocate because the one that exists is fully functioning and has capacity (by AW’s admission); the carbon cost of the project which is as yet unknown will be massive not least because of the shedloads of concrete needed to protect the Principal Chalk Aquifer (groundwater) at Honey Hill, that construction will need to provide!

We urge everyone to visit www.savehoneyhill.org and follow instructions on how to object to this Development Consent Order application if the Planning Inspectorate accepts it at the end of this month. Anyone can have their say and this is most certainly NOT A DONE DEAL!

Catherine Morris

Save Honey Hill Campaigner and Horningsea Resident

Last Stand on Honey Hill – A review

Last Stand on Honey Hill by Liz Cotton at The Junction on 19th November 2022

Following on from her very successful stint at the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this year,  Save Honey Hill’s very own comedy songstress, Liz Cotton, finally brought her show, Last Stand on Honey Hill, to the Cambridge Junction on Saturday night.

With her marriage on the rocks and her children flying the nest, Liz has used a well-honed skill of writing comic songs to help her cope with all life can throw at her, including a billion pound private water company wanting to plonk its new sewage works on her doorstep.

Fortunately for the Save Honey Hill campaign, Liz took umbrage with these plans and decided to hang her new show around her escapades with some of the Save Honey Hill campaigners who she came to know during the course of writing campaign songs and putting together a campaign choir (The Crap Community Choir).

Saturday night’s show was a sell out and for good reason.  Liz’s reputation obviously preceded her and she did not disappoint – people had come from as far away as London.  I must confess, I didn’t really know what to expect.  Liz had warned us that her show was most definitely for adults only as it included very adult language.  But I could not have foreseen how clever and accomplished her writing skills are that her saucy and yes, at times very adult themes and language, were simply hysterically funny and not the slightest bit offensive.  Certainly for me, there was more than a hint of recognition in her song titled “Why Don’t You Know What To Do?” as she reeled off a myriad of examples of how her husband, Phil, ‘annoys’ her.

After briefly covering personal and family trials and tribulations, Liz proceeded to bring the audience up to speed with the ridiculous plans Anglian Water have for Honey Hill, ramming home with the use of video and photos, the beauty of the Fens landscape with resident wildlife, that’s being targeted by Anglian Water as the new location for its industrial plant.  Through the power of laughter, comedy and Liz’s adorable cat, Purdy, we were all reminded of why we have spent the last couple of years fighting this heinous plan and I for one am incredibly grateful to Liz for the injection of fun in what could otherwise have been a thoroughly miserable time fighting for our Green Belt.

At the end of the show, members of the It’s Crap Community Choir were on hand to join Liz on stage to debut a new number, Honey Hill Honey. They were greeted with rapturous applause and I even spied some younger members of the audience clapping and nodding approvingly with more than a hint of respect for these oldies getting down and strutting their stuff in the name of protest.

Finally, it did not go unnoticed that aforementioned, Phil (Liz’s long suffering [??] husband), was standing proudly at the back of the venue as we all headed to the bar at the end of the show.  Clearly their marriage has had a happy ending and hopefully so too will the Save Honey Hill Campaign!

Save Honey Hill goes to the Edinburgh Fringe!

Horningsea/Fen Ditton resident, Liz Cotton, is currently at the Edinburgh Fringe with her show, 100% Cotton, In a Spin. Liz has been educating Fringe audiences about Anglian Water’s plans to foist its sewage works on Honey Hill from her own very personal point of view and in her unique and inimitable style. It sounds like this one particular reviewer really enjoyed it and we look forward to Liz bringing the show to Cambridge soon so we can all experience what sounds like a great evening’s entertainment!

https://fringereview.co.uk/review/edinburgh-fringe/2022/100-cotton-in-a-spin/

Letter to Cambridge News published 28th June 2022

Dear Reader

Anglian Water openly states there is no operational need to move its Cowley Road waste water treatment plant to arable Green Belt land just a mere mile from its current site (lunacy in this time of the climate emergency and predicted food shortages!); that they are being required to by the councils so that a brownfield site is created which can then be developed.

Ok….but….this is contradicted by the councils which say they are not requiring Anglian Water to move and that if it stays at Cowley Road, it will not adversely affect the plans they have for developing North East Cambridge.

It just doesn’t add up – it seems the proverbial wool is being pulled over all our eyes, someone is telling porkies or at least being highly disingenuous.

If Anglian Water was moving for operational reasons, it is fact that it would have to foot the bill not the taxpayer.  It certainly won’t be moving just for the hell of it – AW is getting an awful lot of stick over this project – it is of course already a very unpopular company when you bear in mind all the fines it receives for crimes against the environment. Not to mention the hefty salaries and bonuses the top dogs  receive despite these transgressions.

Who then is behind this costly, carbon heavy plan?  Why is Anglian Water moving? Why has the move been given Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project status? Why has the project been awarded £227 million of Housing Infrastructure funding (taxpayers’ money), roughly the same amount incidentally that Anglian Water (a private company) will pocket from the sale of the land at Cowley Road!

When will the leaders of City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils show some honesty and integrity towards the public and address so many unanswered questions which I believe only they can answer!

Yours

Catherine Morris

of Horningsea

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.