Council fear prosecution unless they replace a leaking sewage plant at a travellers site in Wentworth

Wentworth village sign

Wentworth village sign - Credit: Archant

A 30 year old sewage treatment plant at a travellers site on the outskirts of Ely is to be replaced at a cost of more than £140,000 after it was found to be polluting the local water course.

The plant at Wentworth travellers site, for nine extended families, is leaking “dirty water” and East Cambs District Council fear if they do nothing about it they will be prosecuted.

Spencer Clark, open spaces and facilities manager, said: “No action is not considered an option if the risk of pollution from the plant is to be avoided.

“Without appropriate investment and the adoption of an effective maintenance regime the risk of prosecution will continue to exist.”

The sewage plant is about 30 years old and has little effective maintenance, according to Mr Clark’s report.

Dalrod draining specialists said that both septic tanks on the site were being pushed up from the original seating’s and splitting due to ground water and waste water pressures.

A Dalrod spokesman said: “The treatment plant is too small for the loading from the current residents on site, which is creating the plant to move, slowly.

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“At the moment only one pump is working and the other burnt out.

“The connections from the treatment plant, septic tanks etc are all misaligned and “dirty water” is discharging into the culvert and routing into the ditch polluting the water course.

“If the Environment Agency were to do an inspection they would probably serve notice against the Council, which may force works be carried out or force closure of the site.”

The East Cambs housing and community safety manager said Wentworth was an extremely settled site with no movement for years and no rent arrears.

If the site closed nine families, many of them extended, would need to be rehoused - yet there are no other available plots or sites in the district to keep them within their culture and lifestyle.

A new sewage plant is around £120,000, a lay by for the additional maintenance servicing is £21,000 and fees to apply to the Environment Agency for a licence to discharge consent.

The sum was agreed in a meeting of East Cambs District Council Asset Development Committee.