The Fenland waterways could soon be roused from retirement to transport sewage sludge to a treatment works near King’s Lynn.

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Anglian Water has been exploring ways to reduce the number of tanker lorries travelling to its plant at Clockcase Lane, a single-carriage road in Clenchwarton.

The company has been consulting residents on three possible options to improve access to the works, which process the sludge – a by-product of sewage plants - and turn it into biogas and fertiliser.

As well as using the water ways, Anglian Water also proposed a new road across farmland in the village and the construction of a reception centre off the A47 to pump waste to the plant.

Of the feedback received so far, 56pc of residents favour transporting the sludge by barge and using the River Ouse to access the rural site.

Just over a quarter of people favoured the option of a new road and only one in 20 felt a new pumping station would be the best course of action. One in eight respondents was keen for Anglian Water to explore more than one option or did not see any need for change, according to a newsletter sent to residents this week.

Anglian Water spokesman Antony Innes said while all three options remained in the running, priority was being given to exploring the use of barges.

“Detailed financial, logistical and operational plans are being drawn-up so that we can better understand the long-term implications of owning and managing a fleet of barges and all of the associated infrastructure, as well as plans to help us overcome some of the technical challenges we have encountered,” he said.

A trial conducted on the River Ouse in September last year, bringing barges from Ely to King’s Lynn, was largely successful but Anglia Water faces a number of obstacles.

“One of the key challenges has been the tidal nature of the river causing difficulties navigating under bridges and along fast-flowing sections,” Mr Innes continued.

“Local knowledge has helped us explore the option of using the non-tidal flood relief channel between Denver Sluice and King’s Lynn, answering several of these problems. It’s available 24 hours a day and it’s easier to navigate than the tidal River Ouse.

“It has not all been plain sailing, though. If we were to use the flood relief channel, we would need to transfer sludge to the tidal section of the river at the King’s Lynn end of the channel, where there is currently no lock. And while using barges was the community’s most favoured option, it would not completely eradicate vehicle movements in Clockcase Lane.”

Residents can email feedback@consultation-online.co.uk or call 0800 2987040 with any questions.

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