Construction of Brighton sewage scheme begins

12 January 2010

Following several years’ delay mainly through planning objections, construction work has begun on the UK Southern Water’s Brighton & Hove Wastewater Treatment Scheme. Final planning permission was granted in October.

The contractor is the utility company’s usual environmental improvement partner 4Delivery, a joint venture of United Utilities, Costain and MWH.

Tunnelling work for an 11km long, 2.4m i.d. segmentally lined sewage transfer pipeline using two TBMs is scheduled to commence this April, although construction of major shafts has already started. The tunnel will run from Brighton’s Marine Gate along the coast to feed a new sewage treatment works (STW) and sludge recycling centre at Lower Hoddern Farm near Peacehaven. This will handle 95 million litres of residential wastewater, meaning that the area’s sewage would be treated for the first time to EU quality standards. This is an urgent

matter according to Southern Water since the area is the last in the country not to meet environmental quality standards and one of the last in Europe.

The project also includes two sub-surface pumping stations at Marine Drive and Portobello (a conversion of the existing treatment works), plus a trenched sea outfall, 2.5km long, from the new STW through Friars Bay. The tunnel section of the project requires eleven shafts for sewer connections. The shafts vary in diameter from 3m to 17m and in depth from 8m to 46m in view of the varying height of the chalk surface adjacent to the coastline. There will also be some pipejacking mainly for sewer connections.

Site preparation began in July in several locations with tunnelling from Peacehaven and Ovingdean.

The Brighton & Hove wastewater treatment scheme was first announced in 1997 but was not passed by public enquiries in 1999 and 2006. It was shelved due to another planning application failure in 2007. Then a joint venture of Black & Veatch, Morgan Est and Amec was an alternative contract bidder to 4Delivery. The final hurdle in objectors’ action seems to have been overcome last March when an application by a Peacehaven residents’ organisation for a judicial review into part of the scheme was rejected by the Queen’s Bench Division in the High Court. Objectors still had the possibilities of appeal.

Since inception, the cost estimate for the project has practically doubled from the original £160M (US$277M at historical rates).