POLL: Anglian Water could use Fen waterways to deliver sewage sludge to treatment works

BARGES could soon be plying Fenland waterways again, replacing tankers delivering sewage sludge to a treatment works.

Anglian Water officials say the move would cut the number of lorries on the roads around its plant at Clockcase Lane, Clenchwarton, near King’s Lynn.

The company has been consulting villagers over the best way to improve access to the works, which process sludge - a by-product from sewage plants - and turn it into biogas and fertiliser.

So far proposals have included building a new access road or a reception centre away from the village, from which the sludge would be piped to the plant.

Last night Anglian Water spokesman Ciaran Nelson said the company was now looking at using the rivers Ouse and Welland to bring sludge to the plant by barge.

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“We could use them to bring sludge from places like Ely, Boston, Tydd – possibly even further afield, depending on the economies of scale the project could generate,” he said.

“This would be a really great way to bring back to life under-used assets as in the river network in the eastern region.”

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Mr Nelson said the cost of riverside facilities, including moorings, would need to be investigated.

At Ely, the sewage treatment works is next to the river. But barges moving downstream to Lynn would need to negotiate Denver Lock to access the tidal river to continue the journey to King’s Lynn.

Mr Nelson said: “There are pros and cons of each option, based around things like the capital cost to set the solution up, the ongoing cost of operating the option, and its cost to the environment.

“It’s also paramount that we consider residents’ opinions, which is what we’re engaged in doing at the moment – we met with parish council reps from Clenchwarton and the West Lynn Forum, last Friday, and a newsletter will be going out to all residents next week.”

Mr Nelson said the company would have a clearer idea of whether the idea was worth progressing by September.

“Our objective will be to do this by 2015 at the latest,” he said. “We’re not talking pie in the sky, decades away stuff.”

Barges could not replace all of the 50-60 tankers a day serving the Clenchwarton works, as many of the sewage plants they deliver from are not close enough to rivers.

But Mr Nelson said if the plan went ahead, numbers could be “significantly reduced”.

Water bills are set to rise by between �3 and �14 a year for tens of thousands of consumers across East Anglia.

Anglian Water said it needs to cover the cost of taking over responsibility for pipes connecting some properties to mains sewage.

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