It was fascinating to learn more about the treatment works and to get an understanding of some of the issues and forward thinking solutions being mooted.
The treatment plant itself is one of only 4 currently within the Anglian Water region that processes the sludge by-product created at smaller waste treatment facilities, converting it into methane gas (which is used to power the whole operation and feeds a surplus into the grid) and biosolids which can be used as an alternative to agrochemicals on local farms.
The main issue it seems to face is that the sludge needs to be transported to the facility from the smaller facilities and this currently happens by road transport, big blue tankers, arriving via the Pullover roundabout (A47/A17), through West Lynn (along Clenchwarton Road) to Millenium Way (a road that had been built specifically to keep the traffic off Jubilee Bank Road on the edge of Clenchwarton) to Clockcase Lane which leads to the treatment facility.
Currently, the route down Clockcase Lane takes the traffic past 2 farmhouses at the Ferry road end.
High level options shown to us by Anglian water include the following:
- Creation of a link road closer to West Lynn which would divert the traffic away from Clockcase Lane for the first 200 yards or so which would bring it all a lot closer to properties on the edge of West Lynn
- Creation of a transfer station somewhere close to the Pullover roundabout so that vehicles could be emptied without having to travel through the villages with the sludge then being pumped by underground pipe to the treatment works.
- Removal of much (but not all) of the road traffic by a system of barges, transferring sludge from smaller facilities/transfer stations at Ely (down the river Great Ouse), Wisbech (via the River Nene and out through the Wash), Boston (from the port of Boston) and Spalding (via the River Welland)
Obviously each option has its own pros and cons, for example the underground transfer pipe would be relatively expensive to implement and maintain but would remove a huge proportion of the traffic from the roads through both West Lynn (where it currently travels past the Poppyfields development) and Clockcase Lane. The Barge option would be very expensive to implement but reduces operating costs through reduction in road miles as well as helping toward a commitment to reduce carbon emmissions overall (the company's social conscience when talking about this option was very evident, quite refreshingly so!) and the link road option appears to just move the 'problem' about 50 yards further East and very much into the line of sight of a number of West Lynn residents.
I have taken away an action to make contact with Henry Bellingham MP to represent the views of the West Lynn Residents, many of whom feel that they are not being represented as the Treatment works (which are situated within West Lynn) have expanded in recent years and all current traffic flows through the village - this has happened with little opposition from the West Lynn Residents whereas the Clenchwarton Parish Council appears to have commanded a costly options appraisal exercise because of the effects on a small number of residents. Indeed, one of the West Lynn Forum's recent campaign's, to have a pedestrian crossing installed to allow residents from the Poppyfields development to safely cross the road to reach local amenities was unsuccessful but appears not to have taken into account the 100+ vehicle movements per day generated by the transportation of sludge along this stretch of road.