Anglian Water announces proposed location for new state-of-the-art waste water treatment plant for Greater Cambridge

28 January 2021


Proposals for the site will enhance the environment and improve community access to the Cambridgeshire countryside.


Anglian Water is announcing the next stage of the project which will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a modern, carbon-neutral waste water treatment plant for Cambridge and the surrounding area.


The closure of the current treatment plant on Cowley Road will enable the delivery of Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils’ vision for a new low-carbon city district in North East Cambridge, creating around 8,000 new homes and 20,000 jobs over the next 20 years.


Following an extensive public consultation last year, and a series of rigorous environmental, community, planning, operational, and economic assessments, a team of experts has concluded the most appropriate location for the new site will be an area north of the A14 between Fen Ditton and Horningsea.


A map of the location can be found here.


While the new facility will have an essential job to do, proposals for the site will also include improving access to the surrounding countryside for local residents, connecting up existing habitats, delivering improved homes for wildlife, and new recreational opportunities for the community. The design and additional features of the site will now be further developed in partnership with the local community and environmental groups as part of the next phase of the consultation, scheduled to take place this Summer.


The plant will be carbon neutral, built using state-of-the-art technology, and will provide vital services for the community. At the same time as protecting the environment, it will recycle water and nutrients, produce green energy, and enable Greater Cambridge to grow sustainably for years to come.


Karen Barclay Head of the Cambridge Relocation Consultation for Anglian Water, said:


“Achieving the Councils’ vision for the Area Action Plan relies on the relocation of the waste water treatment plant, and we are working in partnership with them to unlock the development potential of the area, which has great walking, cycling and public transport links, including the new Cambridge North Station, making it a highly sustainable location for new homes.


“Anglian Water’s ambition for this considerable engineering endeavour goes far beyond building a new plant. It is vital we explain this isn’t simply moving an old facility to a new location. This is the creation of an entirely new, modern facility that will be surrounded by carefully created habitat for wildlife, along with opportunities to connect and improve access to the countryside.


“The function of the treatment facility is to turn waste water from Cambridge and surrounding areas into a valuable resource, recycling it and returning cleaned water to the River Cam, whilst harnessing green energy to power the plant itself and creating a biofertilizer product which provides essential soil nutrients for farming.


“The construction of a new waste water treatment plant provides an excellent opportunity to design a facility to keep pace with the growth across Greater Cambridge – a city that is at the cutting edge of innovation, contributes to tackling the climate emergency, and provides green space for its local communities to enjoy.


“Each of the three shortlisted sites identified as potential locations during the initial consultation process presented their own unique opportunities and constraints. The specific challenges of each site, along with the opportunities each site presented to increase biodiversity and enhance the environment, were considered thoroughly. An expert team has applied a very rigorous site selection process, as well as taking on board all consultation feedback from community members, local businesses and stakeholders before making a final decision.”


Site area 3 between Fen Ditton and Horningsea represents the best performing site overall and also presents the greatest opportunities to deliver wider benefits across a range of factors including:


  • Environmental protection and enhancement – greatest opportunities to enhance the surrounding environment, deliver improved habitats for wildlife, and presents the lowest risk of impact on the underlying groundwater sources;
  • Enhance the Cambridge countryside – increase and improve access and connectivity providing additional green space for recreation;
  • Odour prevention – the site offers the lowest overall potential for odour impact for local communities, including accounting for prevailing wind direction.  
  • Carbon – Site 3 has the lowest overall lifetime carbon emissions.
  • Land use – There are currently no competing plans or proposals for development of the site area.
  • Future urban growth - best long-term option, providing a sustainable location away from the City edge and areas of future development.
  • Value for money – the lowest anticipated delivery costs with the highest potential for realising environmental and social benefits results in best value for public funding.


Karen continued: “The extensive feedback we received through the initial consultation was hugely important to our site selection process. It will also feed into the early design phase for the new site. We considered this feedback alongside information from environmental, community, planning, programme, operational, and economic assessments.


“Site 3 was found, on balance, to perform best against these key assessment areas. Additionally, it presents greater opportunities for delivering additional recreation and environmental benefits for the wider area. We acknowledge there will still be some concerns about the site location, which is why we hope the local community will work with us to create a joint vision for the site in the next phase of the consultation.”


Before the next phase of the consultation begins, Anglian Water will be holding a series of technical and community working groups to begin to explore ideas for the new site in more detail. Local residents will be asked for their input to shape and develop the vision for how the plant will be designed, to help meet the needs and aspirations of the local community. These plans will then be put forward for further consultation feedback.


For the site announcement report click here.