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.