DCO Hearings – Livestreams of Issue Specific Hearing 4 and 5 now available to watch

The Planning Inspectors

The livestreams and transcripts of Issue Specific Hearing 4 (13/14th March 2024) and Issue Specific Hearing 5 (9th April 2024) have been published by the PINS and are now available to watch/read.

As with previous hearings, they were broken up into multiple sessions and each recording is of a single session. Also, as with all previous hearings, representatives from Save Honey Hill spent many long days preparing for these hearings and asked pertinent and probing questions throughout.

The Planning Inspectorate’s Examination Period ends on the 17th April and the final deadline for submissions is 23:59, 12th April 2024.

Issue Specific Hearing 4 (ISH4) 13/14 March 2024

ISH4 dealt with the draft Development Consent Order and environmental matters.

Issue Specific Hearing 5 (ISH5) 9 April 2024

ISH5 dealt with traffic and transport related matters.

Notes on Transcripts

“This document is intended to assist Interested Parties, it is not verbatim. The content is produced using artificial intelligence voice to text and is unedited. The video recording remains as the primary record of the event.”

DCO Hearings Live streams now available

The Planning Inspectors

The latest stage on Development Consent Order (DCO) application examination by the Planning Inspectorate was three days of hearings (9th-11th January 2023) at the Hilton in Cambridge. The Compulsory Acquisition hearing and two days of Specific Issue Hearings.

As can be seen from the sheer number of recordings below the three days were long and detailed. Well done to all who attended.

The hearings were reported on by the Cambridge Independent, Cambridge News and beyond including the BBC.

Day One – Compulsory Acquisition Orders (CAH1)

As a group, Save Honey Hill is not affected by compulsory acquistion but nonetheless we were able to raise some very important questions as to why Compulsory Purchase Orders are needed when there is no compelling case to relocate the current Waste Water Treatment plant.

Day two- Issue Specific Hearing 3 on Environmental Matters (ISH3)

On day two, the Inspectors concentrated in great detail on Traffic and Transport both for construction and operational traffic and the impact on Junction 34 and the associated roads, and on Waterbeach in relation to the Waterbeach pipeline. Yet again, there were discrepancies and omissions in the Applicant’s (Anglian Water) documents which have to be corrected or questions answered by the next deadline (D4) on 22 January. This subsequently means more work for Save Honey Hill, reading the answers and commenting where necessary. The Inspector emphasised that Anglian Water and National Highways, and in some instances, Cambridgeshire County Council Highways, must talk to each other.

Carbon was also discussed and again the Inspector had searching questions with further questions raised by Save Honey Hill.

Day three – Issue Specific Hearing 3 on Environmental Matters (ISH3)

On the third day, which lasted a marathon 10 hours, Save Honey Hill raised important issues around Ecology, Water Resources, including Flood Risk, Historic Environment, Landscape, visual and design, and Green Belt.  Save Honey Hill was able to refute some of the points made by the council officer, although these were not accepted by the Applicant’s KC.

Recordings and Transcripts of the hearings

The final session of the long Day three on the Greenbelt

The hearings were all streamed live and these recordings are now available on the Planning Inspectorate’s website and YouTube:

You can view these and livestreams of all past hearings on the Planning Inspectorate’s Examination Library.

Update on Development Consent Order (DCO) process.

Deadline 2: Written Representations submission

Wednesday 6th December was the second deadline of the Examination on the Planning inspectorate’s timetable. We submitted comments on the City, District and County councils’ Local Impact Reports, the three Councils’ responses to Inspectors’ questions, Anglian Water’s replies to the Inspectors’ questions, comments on Natural England and the Environment Agency’s responses to the Inspectors and their Written Representations. Our barrister reviewed some of the documents but most were on our knowledge of the local area and what it would mean for residents.

Save Honey Hill submitted comments on the following:

  • comments on City, County and District Councils’ responses to questions from the Examining Authority (ExA – the Planning Inspectors)
  • comments on the three Councils’ Local Impact Reports
  • comments on Natural England’s, and Environment Agency’s responses to ExA’s questions,
  • comments on NE’s Written Representation  
  • comments on Anglian Water’s responses to the ExA’s questions
  • comments on Funding and Development Arrangement (that will have to be answered by AW and Homes England)
  • comments on Errors and Omissions in the Planning Statement

All documents submitted are published on the National Infrastructure website. This usually takes a few days as there are lots of them from the Councils, Anglian Water and other organisations.

Deadline 3: Save Honey Hill’s response to questions on our submissions.

The next deadline was 18th December when the Inspectors asked more questions and Anglian Water, the Councils and other organisations responded to comments made.

We replied to amendments which SCDC and City Council had made to their Local Impact Reports (LIR), comments by Anglian Water and the two Councils on Save Honey Hill Written Representation and Anglian Water’s comments on the LIRs.

  • Response to SCDC City LIR Amendments REP-2053 and REP2-044
  • Response to SCDC City Response to Save Honey Hill Written Representation
  • Response to the Applicant’s Response to Written Representations AW 8.13 REP2-038
  • Comments on Applicant’s Response to LIRs REP2-036
  • Save Honey Hill submissions for Deadline 3 and Further Submissions

Next steps

In January there will be more questions from the Inspectors and possibly some Hearings which we will attend. 

The Inspectors will be making an Accompanied Site Inspection in January so we have asked them to visit all the areas in the village which would be affected by construction and operation if the relocation were to go ahead. So you might see them at Waterbeach Station Road and level crossing, Clayhithe, Horningsea and the B1047 and A14 Junction, Low Fen Drove, Honey Hill itself, High Ditch Road, Green End and Horningsea Road, Fen Ditton. A representative of SHH will join them but only to help with navigating – no-one is able to try to influence them at that stage. 

Update on Sewage works proposed relocation – Development Consent Order

The Planning Inspectors

Dear Members and Friends of Honey Hill,

Save Honey Hill’s Strategy team worked hard behind the scenes to prepare for and participate in Anglian Water’s Application DCO Preliminary Meeting and Hearings in October1.

Since then, it has continued that hard work, together with our barrister, to draft our Written Representation to send to the Planning Inspectorate on 20th November. 

Despite the many hours that have gone into this, we have taken some comfort and hope from the Planning Inspectors’ forensic questioning of Anglian Water and local council representatives at the Preliminary Meeting and Hearings. 

We feel the Inspectors are really delving into the stated reasons for the proposed relocation and have a good understanding of our concerns and those of other groups such as Friends of the Cam, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and the Parish Councils.

The following links will take you to all the videos of the hearings made available to the public on the Planning Inspectorate’s website (also available on YouTube).  You will see our barrister in action together with Ian Gilder, our retired Planning Consultant who, like all members of Save Honey Hill, gives his time pro bono:

Preliminary meeting

Open floor hearing 17 October 2023

Issue specific hearing one: first session

Issue specific hearing one: Second session

Issue specific hearing two

As soon as we have submitted our Written Representations, we will begin preparations for the next stage: a deadline on 6 December by which time we, and Anglian Water, may need to respond to questions from the Inspectors.

After that, Anglian Water will be required to comment on all the Written Representations by 18th December and following a short break for Christmas, the next Issue Specific hearing will take place some time in the second week of January 2024.

The Examination then progresses through more hearings and more deadlines until April ‘24 after which time the Planning Inspectors will make their recommendation to the Secretary of State DEFRA.

As you will see from the videos, this is a complex and lengthy Examination and it has been a challenge to estimate the funds we have needed for legal advice. Similarly, it is proving difficult to estimate how much more we might need to maintain the momentum. We are grateful for all your support and if you are able to make a donation, however small, it will help us to continue with the best possible legal expertise.

Having campaigned for more than three years, we are not going to give up now and even if funding for more legal help is not possible, we will fight to the end with the resources we have.

Details of how you and your friends can donate are here on our website:

https://www.savehoneyhill.org/fundraising/

Kind regards

Margaret Starkie, Chair, Save Honey Hill Group

  1. Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant Relocation []

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

Cambridge Independent: Anglian Water told to consider alternatives to Cambridge sewage works move

“Anglian Water told to explore Honey Hill alternatives”

Cambridge Independent

Cambridge Independent: Anglian Water told to consider alternatives to Cambridge sewage works move

Since resubmitting its application to the Planning Inspectorate at the end of April, further evidence has surfaced of the sloppy and unprofessional standards that Anglian Water continue to display not only when it comes to the many instances of pumping sewage in to our rivers and seas, but now also in the matter of its project to relocate the Cambridge Waste Water Treatment plant (CWWTPR) from its existing site at Cowley Road, Milton, less than a mile to the outskirts of Cambridge on Green Belt countryside between the villages of Horningsea, Fen Ditton and Quy.

The Planning Inspectorate also told Anglian Water that they had not considered the option of not moving the sewage works in the first place. They are not telling them to consider other sites, they are questioning the need to move in the first place!

Save Honey Hill

Within days of the resubmission, the Planning Inspectorate published its Advice Notes which were lengthy and damning in equal measure and made it abundantly clear why Anglian Water had been advised to withdraw its application first time round1

The application does not consider whether an upgraded plant on the existing site could address waste water treatment needs. The Applicant is advised to consider whether this potential alternative approach should be considered in the application and EIA.

Planning Inspectorate1

Incredibly, the Planning Inspectorate found 118 issues within the application documents, too many to list here, but ranging from instances of missing pages, text and references to significant failures to prove justification or need for the move which are sufficient to outweigh the adverse environmental impacts.  It is worth bearing in mind that this is the first case in England, possibly in the UK, of an application for a piece of major infrastructure where the fully functioning infrastructure already exists.

All this gives further fuel to the belief that Anglian Water is incapable of delivering on this project on time, within budget and to a standard that Cambridge deserves but more importantly, that this application should be refused and a thorough, immediate and long term upgrade of the existing site should be undertaken, an option that was never given due consideration in the early stages of the consultation process.

https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/news/anglian-water-told-to-consider-alternatives-to-sewage-works-9313428/

  1. Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant Relocation Project – Advice on documentation following the withdrawal of the application 3 March 2023 [] []

..and the extra price of The Great Wall of North East Cambridge is the loss of Cambridge’s Green Belt…

Here’s a very relevant article by James Littlewood of Cambridge Past, Present Future (CPPF) on one of the massive buildings that are planned for North East Cambridge. The site for this building is just north of Cambridge North train station. But part of the planned development at North East Cambridge is of course land currently occupied by Cambridge’s waste water treatment plant (the core site).

Cambridge City Council and South Cambs District Council claim that North East Cambridge Action Plan can only really go ahead if the existing sewage works are demolished and relocated to Cambridge’s Green Belt. That is why the City and District Councils have postponed NECAAP consultation until after the Development Consent Order to relocate the sewage works has been decided. There are alternatives which would still help growth in that area.

Here’s CPPF’s response to the last consultation by Anglian Water on moving the plant

DCO Application on hold as Anglian Water withdraw their application.

You may have heard that Anglian Water has withdrawn its Development Consent Order (DCO) application for the relocation of the Wastewater Treatment Plant yesterday (22nd Feb 2023). They have informed the Planning Inspectors that they will resubmit.

There were a few minutes of elation in the village of Horningsea and Fen Ditton before we realised that this is not at all unusual in DCO Projects.

The withdrawal is probably in response to some queries from National Infrastructure and we fully expect Anglian Water to resubmit within a few weeks. So this will result in a delay before the Examination begins.

Anglian Water submitted a letter about the withdrawal.

This makes no difference to Save Honey Hill plans to make Relevant Representations as an Interested Party and to object to the project.

If you have any queries please contact us.