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Planning application for water pipeline stretching from Bexwell to Bury St Edmunds

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Anglian Water has submitted a planning application for the first step in the installation of a 70km pipeline from Bexwell, just outside Downham, to Bury St Edmunds.

The vital infrastructure project is described by AW as a strategic water pipeline that will be part of the largest drinking water infrastructure that the UK has seen for a generation and is aimed to future-proofing the region against drought as climate changes.

Planning applications have been made this week to West Norfolk Council this week as well as to West Suffolk and East Cambridgeshire.

Anglian Water pipeline from Bexwell to Bury St Edmund
Anglian Water pipeline from Bexwell to Bury St Edmund

This section of pipeline will run for 70 kilometres between the two locations to join up existing infrastructure and will include five new pumping stations and three drinking water storage tanks. Subject to planning consent work will commence on site in 2022.

In its entirety, the project will use large diameter water mains to join up water supply in the Anglian Water region, protecting the driest part of the country from running out of water.

Up to 500km of interconnecting pipelines will take water from wetter parts of north Lincolnshire to the south and east of the region, where it is less readily available.

The new pipeline will also strengthen local resilience by reducing the number of homes and businesses which rely on a single water source.

The mammoth project is part of Anglian’s Water Resources Management Plan, which looks 25 years ahead to make the East resilient to drought.

Without taking this action, the East of England would face a water deficit of 30 million litres a day by 2025. That’s a shortfall of 4,380 Olympic swimming pools of water, every year.

Strategic pipeline alliance director for AW, James Crompton said: “The strategic pipeline is vital in addressing the predicted future imbalance where demand for water greatly outstrips the available resources in the east of England.

"It is the most fundamental challenge Anglian Water faces in its region, due to the combined impact of a rapidly growing population, climate change and being located in the most water-scarce part of the UK.

“With 175,000 new homes to be built in the next five years. It is vital we ensure we have resilient infrastructure in place to support local authorities in delivering their Local Plans. We look forward to working with all of the local councils on developing these proposals.”

The strategic pipeline will make use of the latest technology, some never used before in the UK, each one designed to reduce the carbon footprint and any environmental impact associated with the scheme delivery.

The Bexwell to Bury pipeline has been specifically designed to bypass sensitive ecological sites including Hilgay Fen County Wildlife Site and various other sites where environmental surveys have found protected species such as badgers, water voles, bats and great-crested newts.

The entire pipeline has also been designed to have the lowest carbon footprint possible in line with Anglian’s pledge to reach net zero carbon by 2030.

Mr Crompton said: “Our commitment to protecting the environment is as vital as securing customer supplies. This project will help meet our targets to reduce the amount of water we take from the environment by 84 million litres a day, but our infrastructure needs to be sustainable too.

“Climate change isn’t just a risk in terms of the challenges it poses us, it is also an opportunity to challenge established practice and to do things differently and more efficiently, for wider gain. This scheme is an excellent example how we’re doing both for the long-term benefit of our region.”

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