East Sussex issues second rejection of sewage treatment works expansion

Southern Water (SW) must improve its sewage treatment in the Brighton area, but East Sussex County Council has blocked plans to expand and upgrade a treatment plant for a second time.

Brighton’s sewage has discharged into the sea from the Telscombe Cliffs for 120 years. It is the site of the Portobello Wastewater Treatment works, and it is where Southern Water proposes to build an additional treatment works, a sludge recycling centre and a long sea pipeline.

SW’s plans would bring its facilities up to standards required by the EU Urban Waste Treatment Directive.

An appeal, scheduled to begin in October, will focus on whether SW’s second application provides adequate protection of a local Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

“We have shown that you won’t be able to see the works from the AONB at all, unless you’re on the very edge of the cliff,” Mike Elrick, project manager for SW, told edie.

There are two tests to assess whether building on an AONB is acceptable. The building work must be of national need and there should be no viable alternative location. Elrick believes that SW has demonstrated that the Portobello plans fulfil both requirements.

East Sussex CC’s own director of transport and environment recommended approval of SW’s application.

In addition to concerns regarding the AONB, residents have been opposed to the plans on the grounds that traffic will increase. “In the mornings, there are significant queues going into Brighton,” acknowledges Elrick. “We’ve said that our operational traffic will not use the roads at morning or evening peak times.” SW has also proposed measures to reduce traffic to and from the Portobello works to less than one lorry an hour.

If SW’s application is approved, it will result in primary and secondary sewage treatments being introduced. Primary treatment includes chemically-assisted settling of solids. Secondary treatment involves the use of micro-organisms to break down waste.

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