United Utilities plans to carry out a £60 million upgrade to increase the capacity of Ellesmere Port’s wastewater treatment works.

The water company told Utility Week, it aims to install new plant machinery to connect with the existing equipment at the works near the M53 in Cheshire.

If approved, the project will involve land on two sides of the site, which is set in the green belt and dates back to 1973, as well as taking in grazing land “partly to allow landscaping”.

Planners said permission is not needed for new plants and equipment up to 15m in height and the application only covers development which exceeds the size limits or new land.

One of the larger pieces requiring approval is an anaerobic digester, which is more than 18m in diameter and nearly 25m high. It will be able to break down sludge and produce gas to be used as a source of energy.

Other large infrastructure includes a sludge cake building (22.5m by 11.5m and 12m high) and two cake silos (11m diameter by 12m high).

United Utilities said there will also be a centrifuge building (32m by 16m and 8m high); a boiler house (27m by 12m and 6m high); an odour control plant (8m high) and a 26m high stack for the boiler house.

It explained storage for processed cake, to be taken off-site, would be the largest single building proposed at nearly 25m by 84m and 8m in height.

United Utilities said it wants to provide three regional sludge treatment centres for the north-west and has identified Ellesmere Port as the “best site” for the Cheshire area.

The company explained the need to expand capacity has arisen because of the increasing population, Ellesmere Port is expected to grow from 65,380 to 76,420 by 2036.

It said a “significant increase” in trade effluent will arise from the nearby Essar refinery.

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