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You are here : Sundon Proposal

Our Proposal

Why we need it

The need for the new water conditioning facility comes from Affinity Water’s commitment to significantly reducing borehole water extraction from chalk streams in the Chilterns, which is set out in our ‘Revitalising Chalk Rivers Programme.

As we reduce the amount of water we extract from these chalk streams, we must continue to meet demand for water within our supply area, which means we need to increase the supply of water from alternative sources.

The new conditioning facility would enable Affinity Water to bring water though an existing pipe network to deliver water into our catchment supply area in St Albans, Welwyn Garden City and around Luton. The water will come from Anglian Water’s Grafham Water, England’s third largest reservoir, near Huntingdon, which is around 40 miles away.

While there is no requirement for any new underground pipes to move the water to or from the facility, there is a need to adjust the chemistry of the water through a process called ‘conditioning’, which will lower the risk for any potential discolouration and adjust the taste to match more closely to the local groundwater within the Affinity Water catchment area.

This site has been part of Anglian Water’s network for many years. That means it already has the underground reservoir that we need to manage the water conditioning works, along with underground water pipes to move the water in and out of the site. The works we need to undertake are minimal in comparison with the development and construction of an entirely new facility elsewhere.

This is the only solution available to help reduce borehole water extraction in the Chilterns. The volume required would not be practical to transport in water tankers, which would also create significant impact on the environment from CO2 emissions.

This water conditioning plant will enable us to continue our commitment to significantly reducing borehole water extraction from key areas and restoring chalk streams. This includes the River Chess in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, along with ground water extraction in the Ver, Mimram, Upper Lea and Misbourne catchments by 2024 to leave more water in this natural environment.

Details of Affinity Water’s supply area can be found here.

  • Design and operations

    Our proposals include:

    • Two water treatment/conditioning buildings.
    • Control building.
    • Two carbon dioxide storage silos.
    • Improvement to the junction with Streatley Road.
    • New hedge planting and screening.
    • A characteristic and attractive feature of the Chilterns landscape.
    • A globally rare habitat confined to north west Europe and to the UK in particular. More than 85% of all the chalk streams in the world, are found in England.
    • Important habitats for wildlife and support a massive range of plants and animals.
    • Home to some of our most threatened plants and animals, such as the water vole and brown trout.

    The existing facility lies in the green belt, making it particularly important that our proposal is sensitive to the local environment and surrounding countryside.

    We are committed to ensuring our proposal takes particular care to minimise and where necessary, mitigate any impact on the local environment and the surrounding countryside. In turn this will allow us to deliver clear environmental benefits by reducing borehole water extraction from chalk stream beds in the Chilterns.

    Site layout plan

    The facility will fit within the agricultural landscape and will be designed to look like farm buildings.

    The buildings will be designed to integrate into the predominately agricultural landscape. The building will be screened from Streatley to the east by the existing reservoir structure, and from Upper Sundon to the west by additional tree planting.

    Elevation - View from North.

    Elevation - View from East.

    Elevation - View from South.

    Elevation - View from West.

    The facility will not generate any operational noise that can be heard from nearby villages. It will be manned periodically during normal working hours. We will need to deliver chemicals required for the water conditioning in tankers and anticipate there will be one or two deliveries a day during the week, with no deliveries at the weekends.

    We are committed to ensuring our proposal takes particular care to minimise and where necessary, mitigate any impact on the local environment and the surrounding countryside. In turn this will allow us to deliver clear environmental benefits by reducing borehole water extraction from chalk aquifers that feed chalk stream beds in the Chilterns.

  • Biodiversity

    Net environmental gain

    It is our intention to create a net gain in biodiversity. That means we will create more natural habitats than we need to remove.

    The project will sit on land which is currently used for grazing. There is land that we do not intend to use for the facility that we could rewild to attract wildlife and insects.

    Potential area for environmental gain.

    We have options for how we treat the land on the site that is not needed for the facility. They include the possibility of maintaining it as a grazing paddock rewilding the area with a range of plants known to attract and encourage wildlife and insects, or even creating a ‘tiny forest’ with a tree planting density of three native trees per metre square. These can absorb up to 30 times more carbon dioxide than a traditionally planted woodland.


    What is rewilding?

    Rewilding is about creating the conditions for nature to thrive and establishing the natural processes that repair ecosystems and boost biodiversity. More on rewilding can be found at www.rewildingbritain.org.uk. If the land is to be rewilded, we will work with rewildingbritain.org.uk to connect the land to the Rewilding Network and bring this initiative into the local community.


    What is a tiny forest?

    The close-knit style of planting is known as Miyawaki method and is based on the work of Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, who found that wild pockets of densely planted woodland were thriving in a way that far exceeded the narrow, limited habitats of managed commercial forests. Mini forests are known to grow thicker and faster than traditional woodland, using space in an efficient way and making the most of sunlight, shade, leaf litter, pollinators, fungi, wildlife and general ecosystem health. If the land is to become a tiny forest we will work with earthwatch.org.uk to plant, maintain and monitor the space.


    Environment Agency:

    "English chalk streams are one of the most precious and beautiful things in the natural world. They are known for their clear waters, rich wildlife and for providing a beautiful place for people to enjoy."

     

    Jake Rigg, Director of Corporate Affairs at Affinity Water:

    "The chalk aquifer provides 65% of the public drinking water in the south-east of England. These precious resources are under increasing pressure from abstraction and issues such as climate change and population growth. Affinity Water is taking a new approach and investing in water sources which ensure regional resilience. The conditioning facility at Sundon will play a fundamental role in our plans for protecting chalk streams."

     

    Environment Agency – Meeting our future water needs: a national framework for water resources (March 2020):

    "Unsustainable abstraction still diminishes some of the most iconic catchments and important habitats Bishop’s Stortford in the country, such as chalk streams, which are a globally important habitat. There are more than 224 Stort chalk streams in the UK. These represent 75 to 80% of this habitat Chel type globally and must be protected. Sustainably abstracted water bodies are more resilient to climate change and drought so addressing Harlow Roding unsustainable abstraction will help improve resilience."

  • Chalk stream conservation

    "Unsustainable abstraction still diminishes some of the most iconic catchments and important habitats in the country, such as chalk streams, which are a globally important habitat. There are more than 224 chalk streams in the UK. These represent 75 to 80% of this habitat type globally and must be protected. Sustainably abstracted water bodies are more resilient to climate change and drought so addressing unsustainable abstraction will help improve resilience."

    Environment Agency - Meeting our future water needs: a national framework for water resources (March 2020)

    The majority of the world’s chalk streams are found in England and their global rarity means they should be viewed in the same light as an English Great Barrier Reef or rainforest.

    Truly special habitats, chalk streams are home to an abundance of wildlife species such as water crowfoot, flag iris, mayfly, brown trout, kingfisher, otters and the nationally endangered water vole.

    Chalk streams are at risk of extinction as the impacts of climate change combine with increasing demand for water from a growing population. Today many English chalk streams are dry in long stretches and do not meet the objectives set out in environmental legislation.

    Affinity Water is committing to ending environmentally unsustainable extraction from these precious river catchments and to work in collaboration with other water companies, industries, universities and NGOs to develop alternative, sustainable water supplies away from chalk river catchments.

    According to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), chalk streams are:

    • A characteristic and attractive feature of the Chilterns landscape.
    • A globally rare habitat confined to north west Europe and to the UK in particular. More than 85% of all the chalk streams in the world, are found in England.
    • Important habitats for wildlife and support a massive range of plants and animals.
    • Home to some of our most threatened plants and animals, such as the water vole and brown trout.

    This project will allow Affinity Water to reduce bore hole water extraction from chalk aquifers that feed chalk streams and support its commitment to chalk stream restoration in the Chilterns.

    Details of Affinity Water’s chalk stream conservation work can be found at www.affinitywater.co.uk/corporate/environment/chalkstreams

    More information on chalk stream conservation can be found at:

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