Bexwell to Bury St Edmunds pipeline

We are building a 68.2km pipeline between Bexwell and Bury St Edmunds to improve the water supply in the area.


Click here to see a map of the route


The pipe will connect the reservoirs at Bexwell and Rede, the water treatment works at Isleham and Gazeley and the water tower at Woodditton.

The work is important because it will allow us to move water to where it is needed, which will make the supply more reliable and reduce the number of homes and businesses which have to rely on a single source of water supply.


The pipe is part of our 25-year plan to build an interconnected network across the region.


The route


We are still refining the route. This work includes carrying out environmental and archaeological surveys and liaising with key stakeholders, including county archaeologists, ecologists, highways authorities and landowners.


We have already consulted widely with experts and people who will be impacted by our work.


We held an online engagement event between 22 February and 8 March, 2021, to showcase our plans and ask for feedback. The event is now closed but the content can be viewed here.  


A copy of our community newsletter, sent in February 2021, is at the bottom of this page.


We are working closely with the local planning authorities and submitted formal reports showing how we intend to manage the environmental impacts along the route, including an Environmental Impact Assessment 'scoping report', which is available to view, here, on the West Suffolk Council website.


Our planning application, which we submitted in August, is here.


The feedback they provided is helping us prepare the necessary statements and our application for planning permission later in the year.


Our work


You may see our teams carrying out survey work. This preliminary work will be taking place over the next few weeks and will involve digging trenches and boreholes along the planned route so we can better understand conditions below the ground.  We will take our findings into account as we finalise the route.


We will work hard to minimise the impact on communities, and the environment and continue to talk to all those impacted by the work.

The installation will follow good industry practice using tried and tested techniques.


The most commonly used method to lay a pipe is the use of open cut trenches. Where we particularly need to minimise disruption, such as by main roads, rivers, significant drainage and water ditches and railways, we will use trenchless techniques.


Indicative timetable

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What are you doing it and why is it needed?

Our 25-year Water Resources Management Plan sets out how we will manage water across our region. We consulted widely during 2018/19 and have support from customers and regulators for our plans. We will be investing in our network to make the best use of water resources while minimising the impact on the wider environment.  
Within the plan is a programme to install a series of interconnecting pipelines to move water across the region. The water pipeline between Bexwell and Bury St Edmunds is part of the bigger programme of interconnected pipelines providing resilience to the existing water supply for customers across East Anglia. 
The proposed 70km pipeline route from Bexwell to Bury St Edmunds Pipeline will run from an existing water reservoir at Bexwell and to an existing water reservoir at Rede, to the South of Bury St Edmunds.   
In addition to the main pipeline, three water pipeline spurs will connect into the existing Isleham and Gazeley water treatment works (WTW) and into Wooditton Water Tower. 

We’ve been planning this route for a while. We have taken account of information provided from many stakeholders and have refined our route. We aim to avoid areas with environmental, archaeological, cultural and historic value. We have also been undertaking ecological surveys for different species of animals, to back up desk-based studies, and will continue collecting data and making local adjustments. 

We have worked closely with the local councils and submitted a technical report last autumn. This report outlined how we would assess and manage the environmental impacts along the route. 
We have been in contact with Sunnica Energy Farm who are planning a large-scale solar energy farm in the area. We have carried out surveys and investigations to see whether there were any environmentally sensitive areas such as protected species and archaeology. As a result, we have changed the route of the pipeline to avoid areas of archaeological interest to the south-east of Isleham. 
We expect to continue our surveys during 2021 and will be starting to dig some trial trenches and pits to investigate ground conditions and potential  archaeological sites. 
We have worked hard to plan a pipeline route which minimises the impact on the environment and we will continue to work with local communities and landowners throughout the construction and commissioning of this scheme. We have planned the route to avoid most of the urban areas and villages to minimise disruption to you and your communities.  
We have designed the route taking account of the local environmental, ecological, archaeological, engineering, community and land owner needs and expectations. 


Phase of work Types of activity Approximate timetable


Engaging with customers and stakeholders about the preferred route 


Sharing the route, listening to feedback   Spring 2021  


Environmental investigations


Archaeological surveys and ecological monitoring Ongoing during 2021 


Ground investigations and archaeological trial pits  



Digging trenches and bore holes to understand conditions below the surface


Spring 2021 


Submission of Environment Statement and planning permission  



Make submission and discuss any consent that may be required for the scheme  


Spring 2021 


Enabling works (works needed prior to the start of construction) 



Ecological protection for legally protected species.  Some vegetation removal to aid access.  


Autumn/Winter 2021 


Site compounds set-up  
Cutting open trenches, laying pipes and backfilling (refilling of soil once the pie has been installed)  

Trenchless pipelaying (where pipes are pushed through the ground)  

Construction of temporary storage lagoons (to store water that will be used to test the pipeline after construction)  




Commissioning (testing the pipeline prior to becoming operational)  


Cleaning the pipeline and connecting to network  2023-2024 


Reinstatement after installation (the land will be reinstated to its original state and where we can with additional improvements in some areas)  



Replacement of topsoil  
Restoration of access routes and fencing 
Reinstatement of road surfaces  
Reinstatement of drainage  
Replacement of vegetation  



As you can imagine, there is a lot of work involved in installing a new 70km pipeline.  
We’ll develop a Construction Environmental Management Plan and supporting guidance to ensure we work safety and reduce and manage our impacts.  
We will work with the local planning authority, parish councils, landowners and all contractors to deliver the scheme with minimal disruption until the pipeline is operational in 2024.  

During installation of the pipes, we will maintain access to public rights of way, protect livestock, and work with landowners to reduce or mitigate any impacts, as far as possible.   
Working hours will be from 7:30am to 6.30pm, Monday to Friday, with occasional weekend working, with potential extended working hours in the summer months.  
The installation of the pipeline will follow industry good practice using tried and tested techniques. The most common method to lay a pipe is the use of open cut trenches. Where we need to minimise disruption to the ground, such as at some roads and railways, we will use trenchless techniques where pipes are pushed through the ground.  

We have already started our environmental assessments and surveys. These are ongoing and will help us to better understand the current environment where the pipe will be located.  

We will use the information to review how we work and will take advice from experts as needed. 
During any construction activity there will be some impacts on the environment. Our aim is to reduce these impacts by avoiding sensitive areas and putting in protection  measures where needed.  Once installed, we do not expect the pipeline to leave any lasting impacts on the surrounding areas.   
Most of the proposed pipeline route runs through agricultural fields which produce food and provide important habitat for several species. The pipeline crosses a major and some minor roads and the river Flit.  

Maintaining a mixed and diverse range of species is important as it provides food and shelter for different species. The more diverse the species, the healthier the environment.  
We have collected detailed information about the location of sensitive sites along the preferred route, and will continue to carry out surveys and studies throughout the design and construction of the pipeline.  All the information we collect and assess helps to ensure we mitigate and manage our impacts.

Some temporary, reversible disruption may happen in some areas during construction. We will plan work to keep disturbance to a minimum and provide alternatives where feasible. 

We will carefully manage our vehicle movements and transportation of materials around the rural roads to reduce the impact on local road users and manage any required road diversions or lane closures to reduce disruption and delays.