A multi-million pound project to increase the workload of a West Norfolk water sludge treatment plant by more than 40 per cent has been unveiled.
Anglian Water officials say their plan for the Clockcase Lane facility in Clenchwarton, which is expected to cost around £4.5 million to complete, will enable the plant to operate at its full capacity.
They also claim the number of lorries travelling to and from the site will be slightly reduced, as the new facilities can accommodate larger vehicles.
But community leaders are worried that bigger lorries will make the problems that local residents already experience even worse.
And they have urged the company to provide proper road links to the site as part of the proposal.
A planning application is expected to be submitted by the end of July and the company aims to begin construction work in the spring of next year.
It also hopes the new facilities will begin operating in late 2016 or early 2017, if planning permission is granted.
At the moment, around 11,000 tonnes of material is processed at the site each year.
But an Anglian Water spokesman said: “It’s currently operating at just 58 per cent of its capacity and our plans will allow us to make full use of the site’s capability.”
The new plans, which were unveiled for the first time during an exhibition at the Premier Inn hotel in West Lynn on Tuesday afternoon, would, if approved, allow for a new reception centre, kiosk and silo to be built on the existing site.
The company also claims that the scheme will result in a slight reduction of the number of lorries going to and from the site each day, as the new buildings will be able to accommodate larger vehicles.
The latest plan has been drawn up after a government planning inspector rejected the company’s bid to build a pumping station at West Lynn to pipe sludge to the Clenchwarton site earlier this year.
And Anglian Water has now confirmed that scheme, and proposals for other alternative ways of transporting material to the Clenchwarton facility, have been shelved for the foreseeable future.
The site converts sludge, a by-product of water recycling processes, into a soil conditioner used by local farmers. It also generates renewable energy.
The company has claimed the new facilities could increase the amount of power generated there by 50 per cent a year.
The spokesman said: “Fully utilising the centre’s capacity will improve the site’s overall efficiency which is more environmentally sustainable and ultimately better for customers’ bills.”
But local county councillor Alexandra Kemp has called for the company to resolve the road issues around the facility once and for all.
She said she does not oppose the scheme, but maintains the work that was started by the building of Millennium Way should now be finished to help Clenchwarton’s residents.
She said: “Passing tankers rock the foundations of neighbouring homes and keep people awake at night. When will Anglian Water see sense?
“There will be more noise and reverberation with the heavier vehicles if the road is not dug out and properly restructured as part of the application.”
Talks are expected to take place between Anglian Water and Norfolk County Council roads officials to look at what can be done in the area.
But West Norfolk’s deputy mayor David Whitby, who represents the Clenchwarton ward on the borough council, also fears larger lorries may make existing problems worse, not better.
He said he was seeking a meeting with Anglian Water and local MP Henry Bellingham on the issue.
And he feels that other options could still be explored for a new facility.
Meanwhile, Miss Kemp is also angry at what she feels is a lack of consultation with local people on the latest proposals.
She said: “There has been nothing in the village most affected, just a two-hour consultation in a hotel the other side of West Lynn.”
However, Anglian Water says it has set up a dedicated email address for residents to find out more about the plan, at firstname.lastname@example.org