Environmental groups protest at sewage plant

Outraged environmental groups last night voiced their strong opposition to plans to pump minimally-treated sewage into the sea off the north Suffolk coast.

Outraged environmental groups last night voiced their strong opposition to plans to pump minimally-treated sewage into the sea off the north Suffolk coast.

They claim the application by Anglian Water (AW) for permission to temporarily reduce the amount of treatment it carries out at its Lowestoft Waste Water Treatment Centre is in breach of European law and have fired off an email to officials in Brussels.

The opposition from the North Sea Action Group (NSAG) and the Marine Environmental Information Network (Marinet), emerged after AW announced a £1.5m maintenance and improvement programme at the plant in Corton, near Lowestoft.

If the plans get the go-ahead from the Environment Agency (EA), work will take place between October and April and sewage will only receive minimal screening before it is pumped out to sea.

AW insists the procedure is safe because it is taking place outside the summer season and a spokesman for the EA said the European Union bathing water directives did not apply between October and April.

But Pat Gowen, who represents both the NSAG and Marinet, said he had huge concerns about the plans and their impact.

Most Read

In a letter to the EA, Mr Gowen said: “Lowestoft is a bathing beach in regular daily use by many bathers, both in the summer bathing season and in the winter, also supporting other sea recreational activities such as surfing and jet-skiing. The health, welfare and well-being of these people would thus be jeopardised by a removal of required treatment. Further, the marine environment in this area is sensitive and likely to be further damaged by reversion to such a polluting discharge.”

The £70m waste treatment centre was opened at Corton in 2001 and is fully enclosed to prevent smells blighting local residents' lives. However, its design means corrosive gases have damaged equipment a lot quicker than expected.

AW is to bring back into use an old pipe, which extends out to sea by about a mile, to ensure a safer dispersal of sewage water at Ness Point in Lowestoft. The proposals are currently going through a public consultation period, after which the EA will make its decision.

John Daniels, a regulatory specialist for the EA, said: “If we allow AW to go ahead with this work, it will take place outside the bathing season. The bathing water directive doesn't apply between October and April.”

The water pumped out by waste treatment centres has been subjected to far tighter restrictions in recent years, but Mr Daniels added that temporary consent to discharge less treated sewage into the sea could be granted by the EA.

AW spokesman Dan Baker said the company was satisfied the work would be safe and would be happy to respond to concerns raised during the public consultation.

Anyone wanting to comment on the proposals should write, by June 15, to the Area Planning and Corporate Services Manager, Environment Agency at Iceni House, Cobham Road, Ipswich, IP3 9JD, quoting ASECS/12405B.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter