Frequently asked questions

Anglian Water is proposing to relocate its Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant to support sustainable growth in the city, unlocking potential for thousands of new homes and employment opportunities in a new low-carbon city district planned for North East Cambridge.

The shared planning service for Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire Councils has recently published early proposals for the district which is near Cambridge North station.  Those plans will be outlined in the draft North East Cambridge Area Action Plan, which will be published for consultation by the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service later this summer.  Regeneration of the area requires our Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant to be relocated.  The project forms part of the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, which helps to deliver homes in areas of high demand.

The new, relocated facility will continue to provide vital services to Cambridge and the surrounding area in a modern, carbon-efficient treatment plant, to be developed in collaboration with the community.

The current waste water treatment plant on Cowley Road has been providing a critical service to Cambridge and Greater Cambridge since 1895.  It receives waste water from people’s homes and businesses and treats it, before returning it to the River Cam. The site plays a vital role in storing and treating storm flows during heavy rainfall.

The new, relocated facility will continue to provide vital services to Cambridge and the surrounding area in a modern, carbon-efficient treatment plant.

The new plant, along with waste water treatment, will store and treat storm flows and treat sludge to produce renewable energy via anaerobic digestion. The energy produced will be used to power the site. The sludge treatment process also produces biofertilizer, used by farmers to provide essential soil nutrients.  The treated waste water flow plays an important role in maintaining flows in the River Cam. This will be maintained with flows from the new plant.

The new plant will also be equipped to deal with a growing population. It offers the opportunity for a joined-up solution for treating waste water from Cambridge and Greater Cambridge, including Waterbeach and Waterbeach New Town.

We will be launching the first phase of public consultation on the relocation of our treatment plant on 08 July.

We are keen to hear what people think about our proposals and will be inviting feedback from the community throughout the development of the project across a range of channels.

During the first phase of (non-statutory) consultation beginning in July, we will be seeking feedback on proposed site areas and what’s most important to the local community. This consultation period will run for six weeks.

Our second phase of consultation which will be a statutory consultation will be held in Spring next year. We will have identified a final site by this point and will be consulting on how it could look and operate and on environmental information in a Preliminary Environmental Information Report.

The third phase of consultation will be in Winter 2021, when we will be consulting on more a more detailed near final design for the project.

We are keen to hear what people think about our proposals and will be inviting feedback from the community throughout the development of the project across a range of channels.

We are providing a number of digital and non-digital consultation methods. Our dedicated project website is now live and will host all consultation material for people to view from the launch on 08 July.

We will be hosting a virtual exhibition in place of consultation events (due to COVID-19 restrictions) which will be live throughout the whole phase one consultation period. We will also be holding community webinars where people can hear more about the project and ask the project team their questions.

We will be sending hard copies of consultation leaflets and feedback forms in the post to all residents in the core consultation zone. Hard copies can also be sent out to those outside the core consultation zone on request.

Feedback can also be provided through our digital engagement platform which allows people to view and pin their comments to an interactive map of the site areas.

We will be publicising information in local media and circulars where possible e.g. parish council newsletters, and hosting an 0800 freephone line to receive feedback over the phone and also offer a Freepost service.

The National Policy Statement for Waste Water states that a waste water treatment plant is an NSIP if i) it is in England and ii) it is expected to have a capacity exceeding a population equivalent of 500,000. The current plant has the capacity to treat more than that and the new plant will be built with this capacity to ensure it can accommodate the future growth of Cambridge.

The existing WWTP on Cowley Road is 23m at the tallest point. The exact height of the new plant will be determined as the design process is progressed, and as such we cannot specify exact heights at this stage. However, our Stage 3 – Fine Screening assessment, a conservative anaerobic digester tank height of 26m has been assumed (anaerobic digesters would be the highest structures on the WWTP), with regard to understanding potential visual impacts.

We are currently working through the specific design and appearance, and associated mitigations for visual impacts, of the new plant. Landscaping including planting and bunding would screen most of the plant, and we are keen to work with the local community as part of this detailed design process. We will be consulting on both the design, and associated mitigation measures including landscaping for visual impact of the new plant, once we have chosen a final site following the current phase of public consultation.

Three potential relocation site areas have been identified; two of the them are located between the villages of Milton, Impington and Landbeach, with the third between the villages of Fen Ditton, Horningsea and Stow-cum-Quy.

The new site will require an area around half the size of the existing site. We will be consulting specifically on the criteria local communities consider to be most important in selecting a final site.

The three sites areas were shortlisted following a detailed and iterative site selection study which considered a range of criteria, including the potential impact on local communities.  It also considered impacts on the environment such as on protected and sensitive wildlife sites and technical factors, including the complexity and cost of the construction.


It is very important to us that everyone has an opportunity to have a say about the final site selected for the relocation.  A decision on a final site, will take place following the first phase of public consultation and when environmental baseline surveys have been carried out.

We will consider feedback from the phase one consultation along with operational, economic, planning and environmental criteria.

This final stage of the site selection process will conclude with the identification of a final site for the relocation project which we will take forward for our phase two consultation, including our design proposals for the new plant.

We will need access to land to carry out surveys as part of the site selection process and to inform the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The surveys will start in July 2020. Some residents will receive a letter asking for permission for us to come onto land to carry out these surveys.

Initially we are gathering information about the site and tunnel / pipeline corridor options which involves our surveyors walking over parts of the land, to make observations in relation to the historic environment, and ecology, including habitats and their potential to support protected species. They will use tablets to makes notes, map habitats, and take photographs.

The size and shape of a site area is determined by the application of environmental, community, operational and planning constraints, such as the application of a 400m buffer between the site area and residential property. The final site will be smaller than these site areas, around half the size of the existing site.