A £60m upgrade is in prospect for Ellesmere Port’s wastewater treatment works

United Utilities plans to carry out development to upgrade and increase the capacity of the works near the M53 in Cheshire.

New plant and machinery would be installed to connect with the existing equipment at the works set in the green belt and dating back to 1973.

The North West-focused water firm says the project, once planning is approved, would involve land on two sides of the site as well as taking in grazing land partly to allow landscaping.

Planners explain permission is not needed for new plant and equipment up to 15m in height and the application only covers development that exceeds the size limits or new land.

One of the larger pieces of plant requiring approval is an anaerobic digester over 18m in diameter and nearly 25m high. This breaks down sludge and produces gas that can be used as a source of energy.

Other large infrastructure includes a sludge cake building (22.5m by 11.5m and 12m high) and two cake silos (11m diameter by 12m high). There is also a centrifuge building (32m by 16m and 8m high) a boiler house (27m by 12m and 6m high), an odour control plant (8m high) and a 26m high stack for the boiler house.

Storage for processed cake to be taken off-site would be the largest single building proposed, nearly 25m by 84m and 8m in height.

United Utilities’ approach is said to be to provide three regional sludge treatment centres for the north-west with Ellesmere Port identified as the best site for the Cheshire area.

The need arises from the increasing population with that in Ellesmere Port expected to rise from 65,380 to 76,420 by 2036. A ‘significant’ increase in trade effluent will arise from the nearby Essar refinery.