18th May 2023
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!
Save Honey Hill Campaigner and Horningsea Resident
We were very graciously invited onto the Chris Mann show and interviewed by Louise Hulland about the Planning Inspector’s report into Anglian Water’s DCO application and its failings.
The interview was on Thursday 18th May at 17:10 (the show is from 14:00-18:00)
Listen below. The interview is at 3:10 to 3:14
“Anglian Water told to explore Honey Hill alternatives”Cambridge Independent
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.
Cambridge Independent – Anglian Water submits Honey Hill sewage works proposal to Planning Inspectorate
The BBC have written about the attempt to relocate the sewage works to green belt.
Great article from Alex Spencer of the Cambridge Independent about Anglian Water’s application to relocate the sewage works.
Save Honey Hill campaigners are primed and ready for action now that Anglian Water has submitted its application to shift its sewage works at Cowley Road less than a mile to Green Belt agricultural land between Horningsea and Fen Ditton (Honey Hill).
The application has been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate despite Anglian Water stating many times that there is no operational need for it to move. With the support of Cambridge City Council, Anglian Water applied to the Housing Infrastructure Fund and was awarded £227 million of taxpayers’ money, thereby funding a private company’s brand new plant without it having to go to its shareholders for a penny.
Save Honey Hill campaigners, who continue to be encouraged by the legal advice and direction they receive thanks to the generous donations of supporters, are currently preparing their responses even though they will have to wait to see the application in its entirety if and when the Planning Inspectorate accepts it within the next 28 days.
A Save Honey Hill representative says, “We have been preparing for this moment for the last three years and if this application is accepted by the Planning Inspector, we will be ready. Our commitment to fight this project and protect the precious, vulnerable countryside around Cambridge, its ‘green lung’, has not waned. The proposed site at Honey Hill is valuable agricultural land which currently makes a contribution to our country’s food security.”
“The virulent expansion of Cambridge is seemingly going unchecked with little consideration given to the huge carbon cost of moving a major part of infrastructure such a short distance and with no operational gainSave Honey Hill
“The virulent expansion of Cambridge is seemingly going unchecked with little consideration given to the huge carbon cost of moving a major part of infrastructure such a short distance and with no operational gain. We believe this project flies in the face of national planning policy and is a gross misuse of public money at a time of great economical fragility for our country.”
“Of course our villages don’t want this building project to go ahead with the associated impact on our communities of four years worth of construction traffic and other associated side effects. But we could accept it a whole lot better if we were getting something that was an improvement on what Cambridge already has. The site at Honey Hill is such a sensitive one in terms of setting and proximity to conservation areas and sites of significance, both scientific and historical. It will be there for all to see from all directions and yet the design of the plant is underwhelming to say the least. If this move really is as necessary as we are led to believe then why isn’t Cambridge being given cutting edge, state of the art and something to be proud of?”
If this move really is as necessary as we are led to believe then why isn’t Cambridge being given cutting edge, state of the art and something to be proud of?”Save Honey Hill
In response to Anglian Water’s claims that the new ‘flagship’ waste water treatment plant will enable it to continue to provide vital waste water services to customers across Cambridge and the surrounding area that will be resilient and adaptable for future growth, Save Honey Hill say that the fact is capacity at the existing plant already allows for this – the site was ‘future-proofed’ less than 10 years ago at a cost of £21 million and has the room it needs to expand if necessary.
The Planning Inspectorate now has 28 days to decide if it will accept the application for examination at which time the submission documents will be published and anyone will be able to register an interest to comment on the application at https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/eastern/cambridge-waste- water-treatment-plant-relocation/
Save Honey Hill Group
Save Honey Hill is a community group formed to reject the proposal to relocate Cambridge’s sewage treatment works from Cowley Road, Milton to Honey Hill, valuable agricultural land in Green Belt between the villages of Horningsea and Fen Ditton. Save Honey Hill objectors are against the relocation of the plant in principle. However, they also insist that if it is to be sited at Honey Hill the impact on neighbouring communities should be absolutely minimised.
Cambridge Waste Water Relocation Project (CWWTPR) is Anglian Water’s proposal to relocate Cambridge’s fully-functioning sewage works to Cambridge Green Belt just between the villages of Horningsea and Fen Ditton. With the support of Cambridge City Council, Anglian Water applied for £227 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to pay for the relocation, the sole aim being to develop the vacated brownfield site for housing and commercial space as part of the North East Cambridge Area Action Plan (NECAAP).
Save Honey Hill, 2 February 2023
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!