Environmental protection in store for Bradford on Avon river

The protection of a picturesque stretch of river winding its way through Bradford on Avon will be stepped up later this year as a multi-million pound project to enhance the health of the waterway is launched.

Nearly £2 million is being invested to improve the sewer network in the centre of the historic Wiltshire market town as part of a scheme to ensure the system can further cope with rapid increases in the flow of wastewater after heavy rainfall.

More than 160,000 litres of additional storage will be built below ground to prevent the combined sewer - that transfers both foul water from people's homes and rainwater from downpipes and drains to a nearby water recycling centre for treatment - from overflowing to the River Avon when there is a heavy storm.

The new tank will allow the stored water to then be safely returned to the sewer system and onwards for treatment after the storm has receded.

Further improvements will see a mechanical screen installed to prevent any larger solid material from being discharged to the environment without having first gone through treatment.

The scheme is part of Wessex Water’s £3 million a month investment to reduce how often storm overflows, which act as a relief valve to protect homes from flooding automatically discharging into rivers and the sea if there is too much rainfall in the system, operate.

Up to 92 improvement projects are taking place across in Bath, Bristol, Dorset, Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire before 2025 as part of the company’s Storm Overflows Improvement Plan.

Beginning in September, the new storm storage tank will be built below ground in the north-east corner of Victory Field in the centre of Bradford on Avon, with the project expected to be completed by spring next year.

A construction team will remove several sections of the stone wall at the top of Pound Lane to allow access for a temporary compound and pipework, with the wall to be fully reinstated after the project's completion.

Access for vehicles to and from Pound Lane will be maintained during the construction, although space regularly used by parked cars will be unavailable at the top of the lane, while one of the regular youth football pitches on Victory Field closest to Frome Road is also affected by the compound.

Project manager Alex Aulds said: "This is an important step in our ongoing work to protect rivers such as the Avon and we recognise it is taking place within an important public space in Bradford on Avon.

"We're making sure residents, businesses and organisations most directly affected by this project, as well as regular users of Victory Field, are kept updated about the work and also working with the youth football club with regard to alternative pitch access and other assistance."