UU completes £164m rebuild of Lancashire wastewater plant

United Utilities (UU) has announced the completion of a £164 million rebuild of its Blackburn wastewater treatment plant, making it the largest of its kind in Europe.

The scheme, which took four years to complete, has seen the installation of what the company claims is a “revolutionary” wastewater treatment technology known as Nereda.

Nereda, invented by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, is a sustainable technology which purifies water using the unique features of aerobic granular biomass. UU said it requires a quarter of the area of conventional activated sludge installations and the process can reduce energy costs by up to 50%.

The Blackburn wastewater treatment works serves 400,000 people which, the company says makes it the largest purpose-built Nereda process plant in Europe.

Now operational, the plant will help improve local watercourses that are tributaries of the River Darwen, which feeds into the River Ribble.  Ultimately this will continue the improvement of bathing waters along the Fylde coast.

The project includes a new 1.6km pipeline between the Blackburn and Darwen wastewater treatment works, a section of which was tunnelled 16 metres underneath the M65 motorway in Darwen.

Kevin Moody, programme manager at United Utilities, said: “This is a really proud moment for the company.

“In a bid to improve the way waste is dealt with in the North West, we were the first in the UK to invest in a pilot plant for this new technology.

“All the hard work to test the process has ultimately helped to deliver a project on this scale, which will ensure we can meet the needs of today’s population, whilst protecting the environment.”