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

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!


Catherine Morris

of Horningsea

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.


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 – 


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.