Backing for new £16million reservoir serving Sunderland and South Tyneside

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Plans for a huge reservoir project on the outskirts of Sunderland have won support from councillors.

In 2019, Northumbrian Water Ltd (NWL) launched a bid to dig a covered service reservoir capable of storing more than 62 million litres of water near Springwell Village.

The plans – previously expected to cost £16million – aim to ‘strengthen and future-proof’ the firm’s existing network, which directly serves around 125,000 customers.

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As well as a link to Mosswood Water Treatment Works, near Consett, the new facility will link into the Carr Hill and Derwent mains and provide an underground overflow connection to the combined sewer network.

Northumbrian Water has plans for a new £16million underground reservoir in Springwell VillageNorthumbrian Water has plans for a new £16million underground reservoir in Springwell Village
Northumbrian Water has plans for a new £16million underground reservoir in Springwell Village

The rest of the scheme, which includes a new access road from Mount Lane, was approved by Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (West) Committee on September 1.

The reservoir will be developed on a 6.4 hectare site south west of Springwell Village and will include concrete containers buried underground.

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Planners said the site was chosen as it “delivers the optimum benefits whilst minimising environmental impacts.”

Most of Sunderland and South Tyneside’s water travels through a 30km pipe from Mosswood, with some treated water stored in smaller service reservoirs in areas closer to NWL’s customers.

According to planning papers, even a relatively short interruption of supply from Mosswood could endanger supplies to more than 52,000 residents.

Councillors were told that NWL considered options and locations including expanding or rebuilding existing reservoirs – but all were discounted due to factors such as land ownership and availability issues.

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Once operational, the new service reservoir at Springwell will be inspected regularly and is designed to have a minimum lifespan of around 60 years – although NWL have no plans to decommission it after this time.

As part of the development, 458 metres of new ‘species rich hedgerow’ would be created, including the enhancement of the defunct hedgerows on the northern and southern boundary of the service reservoir.

A planning report adds: “The applicant considers that the rationale for constructing the service reservoir at the site will not diminish and indeed, with a likelihood that the existing population centres will see additional growth, the requirement for the facility will strengthen over time.”

Following the planning approval, the application will now be sent to the Secretary of State for consideration.

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