Staffordshire Set For World’s First Zero Carbon Sewage Works
Staffordshire Set For World’s First Zero Carbon Sewage Works

A new wastewater treatment plant is set to be built in North Staffordshire, and Severn Trent claim that it will be the world’s first carbon neutral sewage works. The Stoke Sentinel reports that work is due to start on the £40m plant at Strongford near Barlaston in September. 

The existing Strongford water treatment site is a large and carbon intensive plant, and it will be completely overhauled to include the most advanced technologies to remove carbon emissions. According to Severn Trent, this will amount to 34,000 tonnes of carbon a year, or the equivalent of 34,500 return flights from London to New York. 

Liv Garfield, chief executive officer of Severn Trent, said: “Combatting the climate emergency to protect generations to come is a challenge that requires everyone to reinvent ways of working. This commitment to create the world’s first carbon neutral hub has the possibility of changing the face of wastewater treatment worldwide.”

She added: “The impact of this cannot be underestimated given emissions from wastewater are 80 per cent of our operational emissions, and the hub will solve that.”

“Coming together to share ideas and collaborating to combat climate change is key, that’s why we’re committed to sharing our carbon neutral hub’s blueprint with all other water companies, so wastewater treatment plants around the world can be retrofitted with these new technologies that we’re rolling out at scale.”

“Bringing this innovation to Staffordshire will also bring jobs and green skills, as there are even more novel technologies in the pipeline that will be tested and refined here in years to come, thanks to the investment and support from all of our partners including Ofwat’s Innovation Fund.”

Part of the funding has been provided via the Water Breakthrough Challenge innovation competition that has been overseen by Ofwat. The latest round of the competition will see £38m of funding released to the most innovative new technologies. So far, 16 solutions have received prize money, including Severn Trent’s Strongford scheme. 

The £200m scheme was opened in 2022 to encourage new ideas to help the water sector overcome major challenges such as achieving net zero, reducing leakage, and limiting pollution of waterways and damage to the ecosystem.

David Black, CEO, Ofwat, commented: “The water sector has faced mounting pressure over systemic challenges related to the environment and society, while the climate around us continues to drastically change shape.”

He added:  “That’s why we’re funding ground-breaking innovations with potential to help us save and reuse water and wastewater products, while supporting wider society.”

The Strongford Net Zero Hub was one of the winners in the Transform Stream category. The current carbon intensive site will be retrofitted with developing technologies that will be used at scale for the first time. It has been described as a blueprint for other water companies worldwide to follow and work towards carbon neutrality. 

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