Taw Hill residents are objecting to proposals drawn up by Thames Water to install two huge underground sewage overflow tanks costing £4.8 million close to housing at the northern and southern ends of Queen Elizabeth Drive.
They have called an open air protest on Monday 24 June, 6.30pm, close to the Tawny Owl pub.
Thames Water say they need extra storage capacity to cope with 1 in 30 year rainfall to prevent the Taw Hill pumping station being overwhelmed and sewage backing up into homes.
The pumping station is the intermediate stage in the sewer network from the housing built over the last 15 years in North Swindon to Swindon’s sewage treatment works at Barnfield. The extra 1,700 houses to be built at Tadpole Farm will impose extra demands on the network.
The two tanks on Queen Elizabeth Drive will be the size of 10 double decker busses but only a hatch, control box, lighting tower and vent pipe will be visible.
The southern storage tank is proposed for the green area close to the pumping station, a few yards from the Tawny Owl pub. It would mean major construction just yards from homes and the destruction of mature trees.
The northern site lies on open space to the west of Greenwood Grove.
Residents say the pumping station and the sewer pipes in North Swindon is regularly under pressure during heavy rainfall events because road tankers are often seen in the compound pumping out sewage.
Pictured above, David Parkinson, Andy Hargreaves, Brian McLean, John Bellamy, Nick Gratton, Linda Hayes on the southern site where Thames Water propose the storage.
Right, and below where Thames Water want to site their contractors compound
Explaining his objections resident David Parkinson said: “The problem is not provision of extra sewage capacity but where they’re proposing to locate it. The south site is a mature green area with tall flowering trees within a housing area. Thames Water are proposing to rip these up and install the tank, control boxes, four metre high lighting rigs and six metre high vent pipes.
“The southern site is crossed by several well used footpaths and is adjacent to the main road access into Taw Hill. Thames Water want to use a road already deemed unsuitable for HGVs and introduce a large lay-by next to the tank for occasional use.
“If this goes ahead there will be major environmental damage and disruption during construction.”
Although planning permission is not required for underground tanks, nor a temporary builders compound, Swindon Council planning committee will have to consider the above ground equipment.
David believes Thames Water can avoid confrontation with residents. “We’re baffled as to why Thames Water are proposing the south site,” he said. “We argue the tank can be built on the west side of Thamesdown Drive on a small part of the open space at Mouldon Hill park, away from housing – pictured left.
“The only excuse given is that construction equipment cannot get under the entrance barrier, which can be opened, or under power cables across part of the park. This is nonsense and more to do with keeping costs down.
“Surely if there’s a possibility that something can be built discreetly, without compromising the quality of life for existing residents, or the saleability and value of our homes, it ought to be fully explored.”
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said that all possibilities should be considered. “I share residents’ concerns. The ideas they’re putting forward need to be fully investigated.”