A £60m upgrade to Ellesmere Port’s waste water treatment works had a unanimous green light from borough planners.
United Utilities proposed the development to upgrade and increase the capacity of the works alongside the A5117 and near the M53 in Little Stanney.
New plant and machinery will be installed to connect with the existing equipment at the works set in the green belt and dating back to 1973.
United Utilities says the project will 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 will be the largest single building proposed, nearly 25m by 84m and 8m in height.
United Utilities’ approach is said to be to provide a regional sludge treatment centre with Ellesmere Port identified as the best site for the Cheshire area.
Councillors were told there will be a need to treat a ‘significant increase’ in flow and load from Stanlow Refinery resulting from Essar having a requirement to cease untreated discharges to the Manchester Ship Canal. This will have environmental benefits to local watercourses.
The increasing population in Ellesmere Port, expected to rise from 65,380 to 76,420 by 2036, is also a factor.
Recommending approval planners argued there were ‘clear social and economic benefits’ from the upgrade and very special circumstances outweighed the harm to that part of the town’s green belt.
The decision is subject to any call in by the secretary of state.