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Anglian Water uncover rare moth species in environmental find

28 October 2019


Anglian Water staff recently discovered a rare species of moth during pre-commencement work ahead of a new sewer pipe improvement scheme in Norfolk.


The rare species of moth, Commophila aeneana, known as the Orange Conch, was found by the company’s staff as they undertook ecological surveys ahead of proposed work to lay a new section of sewer pipe in Kings Lynn.


The scarce species in Britain, occurring locally in southern England, was thought to have been extinct in Norfolk until it was uncovered where the new pipe was expected to go.


Despite a multimillion-pound investment, Anglian demonstrated their commitment to the environment, changing the proposed route of the new pipeline in order to avoid the sensitive area, preventing harm and disruption to its habitat.


The larvae of the Orange Conch live in the roots of ragwort, Jacobaea vulgaris, and faced potential disturbance by site activity. Ecologists at the company said the potential loss of Orange Conch population could result in “a major impact on the species at a county level”.


In addition, the method of construction was changed entirely to a directional drilling technique, a no-dig method which helped to further minimise the impact on the species.


Anglian ecologists also proposed precautionary mitigation on site in order to ensure the longevity of the species, including construction exclusion zones and the presence of an onsite Ecological Clerk of Works to oversee operations.


The removal of ragwort, where appropriate, is set to be watered, maintained and replaced upon completion, with post-completion checks in the year following construction in place to establish the continued presence of the species.


David Hartley, Anglian Water spokesperson, said: “We take our role in the environment very seriously, and although we are investing millions of pounds into area, it’s imperative that we do so with the environment in mind.


“We’re really pleased that this vital work will help to improve the existing sewer network, ensuring a more resilient wastewater network in the area.”


The £6million investment by Anglian Water, England’s largest water company by geographical area, will see 2.2km of new pipeline installed alongside the A148/A47, helping to improve the resilience of the sewer network in the area.


The new pipe will replace an existing sewer pipe that has reached the end of its optimal operational life, helping to reduce the likelihood of flooding and pollution in the area. The scheme, which began on 20 October, is expected to be completed by April 2020.


“We will be completing the majority of the installation in nearby fields in order to minimise disruption for local road users wherever we possibly can. The directional drilling technique also reduces the need to dig, helping to reduce our carbon footprint at the same time,” David continued.


Two-way traffic lights will be in operation for two consecutive weekends when the new pipe is connected to the existing pumping station near Campbell’s Meadow retail park.


Advanced warning signs will be in place in the area to notify residents and road users of the upcoming repairs and traffic management.


Teams will be onsite from 7.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, with occasional weekend work to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. Further information can also be found on the Anglian Water website at