Shropshire Star

Tree expert kicks up a stink over Shropshire sewage works pipe proposal

A council expert has kicked up a stink over proposals which could lead to the removal of trees leading into a new sewage treatment works on the banks of a south Shropshire river.

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The site of the replacement sewage treatment works. Image: Google.

Water company Severn Trent has applied to Shropshire Council to create a replacement activated sludge plant sewage treatment works on the banks of the River Rea in Cleobury Mortimer.

The company says the upgraded sewage works are needed to provide the infrastructure needed for hundreds of new homes that are earmarked to be built in the area.

While no member of the public has lodged objections to the plan, and Cleobury Mortimer Town Council has told planners at Shropshire Council that it supports the idea in principle, a council tree expert has raised objections.

A pipeline that is being proposed to link the old site with the new one would crash through a number of trees between the old and new site, which is currently a grazed agricultural field.

Martin Sutton, Shropshire Council's county arboriculturalist, is concerned that the new sewage pipeline would pass through a significant group of mixed native broadleaf woodland.

In his submission to the council planners he said: "I am concerned that the development relies for its operation upon installation of a new sewage pipeline connecting the new treatment works with the existing facility some distance to the south-east.

"The route of that new pipeline would pass through a significant group of mixed native broadleaf woodland located immediately to the east of Station Road."

He has asked for more information on the method that they will use to install the pipeline.

"Subterranean directional drilling would potentially have the least impact upon the trees within the affected woodland, whereas surface installation and open trenching would require removal of a presumed 10m strip through the woodland, which would have significant visual and potentially ecological impact," he said.

"I recommend that clarification of the new pipeline and the arboricultural implications of its installation is provided prior to determination of the current application, when I would be happy to provide recommended tree protection and landscaping conditions."

An Arboricultural Impact Assessment has been lodged with the council on behalf of Severn Trent.

A company called Middlemarch carried out a survey of trees on the site on August 22, 2022.

It said the recommended method of installing the pipeline above ground would be "significant" to a group of trees.

"The impact as a result of this installation method is significant and as result additional landscape design, tree planting and Biodiversity Net Gain planning will be required to mitigate for the loss of trees from the group if this method of installation is undertaken."

Other groups of trees considered to be of a "low retention value" are also set to be removed.

But Middlemarch adds: "The proposed removal of these trees should be considered acceptable as new tree planting of higher quality trees more suited to the new development will make a lasting contribution to the visual amenity value, and canopy coverage of the site.

"New tree planting will form an integral part of the proposed development, however, proposals for new tree planting should be appropriate for the future use of the site and not just aim to mitigate the proposed tree loss."

It says the proposed development of the site is "likely to significantly impact the visual amenity of the local area as a result of the proposed tree removal".

But it adds "as evidenced through the new landscaping proposals, new tree planting will significantly increase the tree cover on the new development site, adding future value, both for amenity to the local area, and habitat improvement".

Cleobury Mortimer Town Council responded to the planning application on May 4.

It said: "We welcome this application as it proposes to provide a solution to under capacity and should improve the quality of our river water.

"The application identifies the issues in a clear and logical manner and provides solutions to mitigate impact on the town of Cleobury Mortimer and, in particular, the opportunity to protect and enhance biodiversity."

But the council added there were areas of the application which fall short of planning requirements, namely ecological, tree, and landscape impact and have asked for more action to be taken.

A period of consultation on the plan closed on April 21 and it could be decided by Shropshire Council planners by June 30.

Details of the application are on the Shropshire Council planning website with the reference number 23/00908/MAW