Water firm suspends pipeline work
A WATER company has suspended work on a new pipeline after being told it will need planning permission before crossing a nature reserve.Essex and Suffolk Water had been preparing to take the pipeline across the North Warren reserve at Aldringham and Thorpeness in order to avoid the cost and traffic disruption of routing it along the road.
A WATER company has suspended work on a new pipeline after being told it will need planning permission before crossing a nature reserve.
Essex and Suffolk Water had been preparing to take the pipeline across the North Warren reserve at Aldringham and Thorpeness in order to avoid the cost and traffic disruption of routing it along the road.
The plan was to lay the pipe above ground pending the outcome of talks with the district council about proposals to put it underground – together with a new Anglian Water sewer pipe and a Transco gas main.
However, following pressure from a local resident the district council has ruled that even to lay the pipe above ground the company needs to commission a formal environmental impact assessment and apply for planning permission.
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This has led to the work being suspended until September, by which time Essex and Suffolk Water and the other two firms hope to have been given permission for an underground trench.
The RSPB may accept the water and gas mains but is likely to object to the sewage main because of fears that leakages could contaminate freshwater habitat which supports bitterns and other wildlife.
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The water main is needed to solve problems which are manifested in Aldeburgh each summer. Failure of either of the two old mains which supply the town has led to interruptions in supply.
Plans to temporarily lay the main above ground along the old railway track through North Warren were drawn up in an attempt to keep the water flowing to Aldeburgh this summer.
However the work has been called off after an intervention from Dr David Wolfe, who lives near the proposed route of the pipeline.
His solicitors pointed out to Suffolk Coastal District Council that even the above-ground pipeline required an environmental impact assessment and planning permission because the route was within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
"Presumably, Essex and Suffolk Water has chosen this route because, although longer, it involves less excavation of the road and is thus cheaper. In effect the SSSI and the AONB are to suffer for the company's commercial advantage," he said.
But Vanessa Hart, water company spokeswoman, said the RSPB and English Nature had been consulted about the proposed work and the aim had been to get it done before the bird nesting season started.
"We are very conscious of the environmental impact of all the work we do," she said.
Rob Macklin, warden of the North Warren reserve, said he had previously understood that the water company did not need planning permission and could build the pipeline under its statutory "permitted rights".
"Putting it underground will not cause much damage to habitat but we are very against the sewer main being routed through there.
"If there are leaks it could lead to contamination of fresh water areas on the reserve. If sewage gets into the water we would say goodbye to the bittern and we would have a problem with algal blooms," he added.
A district council spokesman said officers were involved in ongoing discussions with the utility companies.