SEWAGE from tens of thousands of homes at garden communities at West Tey and to the east of Colchester will be piped to the existing treatment plant in Hythe, if the plans are given the go ahead.

The plan was discussed on Tuesday as the additional evidence hearings exploring the proposals got underway at the Jobserve Community Stadium.

Extra evidence is being taken by Planning Inspector Roger Clews on Colchester, Tendring, Braintree and Essex councils' garden community proposals, which could see a total 43,000 homes built across three new towns.

During the session on Habitats Regulation Assessment, Rosie Pearson, of the Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex (Cause), questioned the availability of water for so many new houses and how waste water would be treated.

"I have been unable to find out from research whether it is possible to increase the capacity at the Colchester waste recycling centre to take the sewage of two new towns at Tendring Colchester borders and West Tey and the relevant section two growth," she said.

"It is currently struggling with capacity and we know already there are a number of combined sewer overflows.

"If there is pressure on the water infrastructure it releases untreated sewage so clearly that creates an issue with water quality in the estuary.

"With that in mind we do not know what it will cost or whether the treatment plant can be expanded, whether it can be treated to the highest standards required and we know already there are issues with pollution near the plant at certain periods. The drier weather creates concentration problems and wetter weather creates run off issues.

"There is a perfect storm of issues and I have no confidence this has been addressed."

However Stewart Patient, representing Anglian Water, said the firm has a legal obligation to ensure it has capacity for all homes and had an "investment planning process" to identify growth areas.

He said: "We have a business plan process and in addition we have published our water recycling long-term plan which set outs our long-term strategy including in terms of capacity.

"If capacity is not exceeded then water quality deterioration should not occur."

On Tuesday Mr Clews also heard extra evidence on employment provision and housing need.

The hearings continue today (Thursday), Tuesday, Wednesday and next Thursday.

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