Bristol's water recycling centre

More than £100 million is being invested to extend the site in Avonmouth, allowing us to meet the demands of a rapidly-expanding city.

Our huge investment will allow a greater volume of sewage to be treated to the highest standard, while also protecting the environment by improving the quality of treated wastewater released into the Severn Estuary.

Why is this expansion needed?

Bristol’s water recycling centre treats sewage and wastewater from the city and the surrounding area, but with the city’s population projected to increase significantly in the next 20 years, further capacity is needed to meet these demands.

This increased treatment capacity will also play a role in reducing the automatic operation of storm overflows when rapidly-increasing flows caused by sudden heavy storms can overwhelm the sewer system.

An essential component of the city’s vision to put good social and environmental outcomes at the core of sustainable economic growth, expanding the existing site is also likely to offer further benefits to the city through associated economic opportunities as its construction begins.

What's happened so far?

Wessex Water submitted their planning application for the expansion of the water recycling centre in Avonmouth in March 2023.

This followed a lengthy consultation process over a five-year period, which extensively gauged both the views of the public and a wide range of organisations about the plans.

Throughout 2022, Wessex Water spoke directly with the local community about the proposals at a series of drop-in sessions in Lawrence Weston, Shirehampton and Avonmouth.

More than 60 people attended across the three days, taking the opportunity to find out more about the plans, meet the project team and ask questions about the proposed expansion, as well as leaving their own comments and feedback. A virtual public consultation feedback form was also made available for comments.

Our team also met with planning groups in Avonmouth, Lawrence Weston and Shirehampton to help shape the proposals, which were reported in a Statement of Community Involvement as part of the planning process.

After careful consideration, Bristol City Council planners gave the go-ahead for the expansion, subject to conditions, in November 2023.

What happens next?

Wessex Water started work on the expansion in January 2024 after obtaining final approval from Bristol City Council around how we will manage the construction site.

The project is expected to take five years to complete and the early stages of the scheme will prepare the ground for the infrastructure, such as the treatment tanks and pipework, that will be installed on the site later.

As set out in the traffic management plans within the planning application, all large construction traffic will route to the A403 via Kings Weston Lane or via Kings Weston Lane and Merebank Road, avoiding Lawrence Weston Village.

Measures including temporary on-site one-way systems, restricted delivery hours, and no parking on roads around the extension site will be in place, with the local community being advised in advance about them. Inductions to the site regarding expected behaviours on routes to and from the site and around the work areas will also include nearby residents and businesses.

Working with Bristol City Council's Highways team, we'll also be establishing temporary access and exit onto Kings Weston Lane from the expansion site.

As part of our construction work, we will be clearing vegetation and installing temporary fencing to protect the sensitive environmental areas and buried services. Checks for nesting birds will be carried out by our ecologists before vegetation is removed.

What else are we doing?

Our public consultation process underlined that many local people wanted to see more information about the local archaeology around the water recycling centre and proposed expansion site.

Wessex Water has already carried out substantial investigations into the local heritage, particularly Mere Bank Scheduled Monument, with Historic England and Bristol City Council’s archaeologist advising on the design and survey requirements throughout.

Read more about the Mere Bank Scheduled Monument Investigations.

Additionally, comprehensive environmental and ecological measures have been included within the scheme plans – with the diversion and restoration of two footpaths (BCC/18/10 and BCC/5/10) in the area around the water recycling centre agreed in principle with Bristol City Council.

Sections of these rights of way have been overgrown and underused but we will revitalise them, ensuring they are traffic-free, away from the existing site boundary fence and of benefit to the wider community.

These improvements to the network will also help to promote active transport, providing opportunities for locals to walk and reduce dependency on vehicles.

There will be a temporary closure of these paths during construction while they are realigned, with further details on how the revitalising work would be carried out provided during the course of the expansion.

We will also step up our progress on ensuring the project offers further benefits to the city, including working with organisations like Severnet to explore associated economic opportunities, as well as potential regeneration and environmental enhancements in the area.

Keeping the conversation going

Wessex Water’s ongoing engagement with local communities about the water recycling centre and expansion plans was enshrined with the formation of a new Community Liaison Group, featuring representatives from the company, the planning groups from Avonmouth, Shirehampton and Lawrence Weston and others.

This group first met in late 2022 and again in early 2023 and will continue to do so regularly, discussing how the water recycling centre operates, the progress of the expansion, how this impacts local communities and working together to find potential solutions.

With support from the Community Liaison Group and research with local stakeholders, a new grant fund - the Avonmouth Area Community Fund - has been announced by the Wessex Water Foundation and is set to open in July 2024.

The fund, which will be open for three years, aims to improve the lives of the people in the Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston ward, including Shirehampton.

How can I find out more?

If you have any further questions about this scheme, please email avonmouth.scheme@wessexwater.co.uk.