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Thames Water confirms earlier sewage treatment upgrades in letter to Newbury MP Laura Farris

A West Berkshire sewage treatment works will be upgraded earlier than planned.

Thames Water has confirmed that the work to upgrade the Hampstead Norreys sewage treatment works could start by the end of next year.

Newbury MP Laura Farris
Newbury MP Laura Farris

Newbury MP Laura Farris wrote to the water utility company last month with concerns about pollution in the River Pang, which had seen it downgraded from good to poor in just seven years.

Mrs Farris called for the significant upgrades planned at the treatment works in 2025 to be brought forward to 2024.

Sustainability director Richard Aylard replied confirming work would now start at the site in November 2024, or even earlier.

He said the treatment works were performing consistently well for quality compliance but there have been several self-reported pollution incidents this year.

“We regard any discharge of untreated sewage as unacceptable and are working hard to make them unnecessary,” he said.

“This is of course all the more important when the discharges are to a chalk stream.

Previous sewage discharges in West Berkshire
Previous sewage discharges in West Berkshire

“This work is recognised as a high priority and we have been able to bring dates for the work forward by three months.

“The current schedule has work due to start in November 2024 and run to October 2025 but we will continue to look for ways to accelerate it further."

Mrs Farris said: “I am very pleased to hear this much-needed upgrade is now going to start in late 2024 and [Thames Water] has indicated it will try and move it forward to earlier in the year.

“The poor state of this important chalk stream is an issue that has caused serious consternation among local people for some time and action must be taken.

“There is no doubt the Pang is of huge ecological significance and it needs better protection from pollution than it has received of late.

“However, I accept Thames Water has listened to my concerns and recognised the concerns of my constituents and acted.”

Mr Aylard explained only the fish indicator on the River Pang had been poor and had marked the river down.

He said the Environment Agency suggested the poor result for fish in 2022 could have been influenced by the exceptionally hot and dry summer weather that year.

“The fact the parameters which are most affected by sewage, namely invertebrates and ammonia, remained high, and the fact there were no discharges of untreated sewage from Hampstead Norreys during 2022, suggests the downgrade has not been influenced by the performance of Hampstead Norreys sewage works,” he added.

The design for the scheme at Hampstead Norreys is still being finalised.

It is likely to include new inlet screens and balance tank, elimination of hydraulic restrictions, increased capacity prior to the hydrobrake, potential replacement of the hydrobrake, a new premature spilling alarm and a full refurbishment of the reed bed treatment system.

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