Aylesbury to benefit from multi-million pound upgrade at sewage works

Posted: Thursday 31st January 2013

Thames Water is starting a scheme to increase the amount of green electricity it produces from sewage at its works in Aylesbury.

The £16 million project will also see big improvements to the plant’s processes to improve water quality in the nearby River Thame.

These upgrades will cut operating costs, reduce the company’s carbon footprint and benefit wildlife living on the river.

The renovations will make the Buckinghamshire site 14 per cent greener by producing an additional 300,000 kilowatt hours of power in the energy-from-waste plant. This involves burning biomethane from sewage sludge - the solids left over from the sewage treatment process - which is then burned to generate electricity. The upgraded site will be making enough green energy to power nearly 750 homes, or to boil the kettle for 84 million cups of tea.

When finished, the capacity of the works will also have increased by 27 per cent in anticipation of a population growth of 28,000. There will also be a new storm tank which will enable the site to handle high volumes of sewage during heavy rain.

The project is the second biggest in the company’s five-year investment programme of more than £5bn over the five years between 2010 and 2015 in the Thames Valley.

Lawrence Gosden, Thames Water’s capital delivery director, said:

"The improvements we are making at Aylesbury will benefit our business, the natural environment, and our customers.

"By producing more renewable energy, we reduce our reliance on non-renewable power in the mainstream energy markets. This protects us against price fluctuations which can lead to an increase in operating costs and an upward pressure on customers’ bills.

"And by increasing the capacity of the works and improving its processes we will further improve the quality of water in the nearby River Thame, which is good news for the wildlife which it supports."

The work, in support of Defra’s Love Your River campaign, is due for completion in September 2013. Other major investment projects in the Thames Valley since 2010 include £6m to improve Cirencester sewage works, £5.4m for the site in Wantage and £4.8m to upgrade the sewage works in Witney.

Richard Benyon, the Environment Minister, said:

"We all love our rivers. They are the lifeblood of our country. They’ve shaped our landscape, and our towns and cities have been designed around them. They are vitally important for our everyday lives and our environment, and we’ve all got a role to play in making sure our rivers are as healthy as they can be.

"I hope the ‘Love Your River’ campaign will inspire people to value their local rivers and take action to look after them. It’s especially important that we care for our rivers when they’re facing the added pressure of drought, as well as the constant threats they face from over–use and pollution. The fact that so many organisations have come together to back this campaign shows the depth of feeling about this issue, and the importance we all place on making sure our actions don’t damage our rivers."

The scheme is part of Thames Water's commitment to improving and maintaining its pipes, sewers and other facilities as part of an investment programme of more than £5bn over the five years between 2010 and 2015.

Thames Water has spent £17 billion on improvements to its water and waste water infrastructure since privatisation in 1989. As a direct result of this investment, the quality of its customers’ tap water and the environmental compliance of its 350 sewage works are better than they’ve ever been. Leakage from its 20,000-mile network of water mains also remains close its lowest-ever level.

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