Barge trial could see sewage sludge transported on Fenland rivers

BARGES could soon be used to transport thousands of tonnes of sewage sludge across the Fens.

Anglia Water is investigating whether barges could be used on the rivers Ouse, Nene and Witham - carrying sludge from Ely to its treatment works at Clenchwarton as well as from Wisbech and Boston to King’s Lynn via The Wash.

Tug boats set out from Ely’s waterfront yesterday on a trial run for what could soon become a regular voyage. The mini flotilla is expected to arrive in King’s Lynn by this evening.

Each trip of the 200-tonne barges could save the company 16 lorry movements - an annual road haulage reduction of 660,000km and an estimated CO2 saving of 235 tonnes.

Ely Marina owner Jeremy Tyrell, who supplied the tugs used in yesterday’s trial run, said: “It’s a wonderful thing for the river. If we could get more commercial traffic, it would bring money into the river and bring a lot of lorries off the road.”

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Mr Tyrell said the movement of heavy craft would help clear silt from the tidal river downstream of Denver, while lock openings needed to allow craft to transfer between the Ten Mile and tidal Ouse would help migrating elvers on their way upriver.

Anglian Water spokesman Ciaran Nelson said: “Our King’s Lynn Sewage Treatment Works currently receives up to 60 lorry movements per day.

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“The combined effect of this barge combination working on the River Ouse with that of a coastal barge working between our sites near Wisbech and Boston to our King’s Lynn site will be to reduce lorry movements to approximately 10 per day.

“The coastal barge will have a capacity of 1,500 tonnes (60 lorry loads) per trip. We’re focusing on the barges on the river at the moment, but the coastal barge trial may follow, as early indications look positive.”

River users will be consulted over the plans.

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