Severn Trent unveils plans for underground storage system in Coventry to help cut sewage spills

Land off Unicorn Lane in Eastern Green, Coventry
Land off Unicorn Lane in Eastern Green, Coventry -Credit:Google Maps

A Midlands water company wants to reduce sewage spills in Coventry by developing land next to a pub. Severn Trent has lodged plans for the site off Unicorn Lane in Eastern Green.

The move will allow it to build and run an underground storage system in the city, plans said. The aim is to boost storage space in the local sewage network so there are fewer spills from combined sewer overflows in the city, a statement added.

Combined sewer overflows, known as CSOs, are used to release diluted sewage into waterways when there is heavy rain. They are allowed to be used in exceptional circumstances to stop buildings from flooding with sewage.

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But the scale of their use across the UK has been criticised in recent years by politicians and campaigners. Water companies in England apologised last year for not acting quickly enough to tackle the spills and pledged to invest £10 billion in upgrading the nation's sewers.

Severn Trent has been the target of demonstrations this year over its river pollution record
Severn Trent has been the target of demonstrations this year over its river pollution record -Credit:Ellie Brown

Severn Trent supplies and treats water in a region spanning the Midlands and some of north Wales. Eight million people use its services, its website says.

The company spilled sewage into the region's waterways for 440,446 hours in 2023, a sharp rise from the year before, Birmingham Live reported in March. A spokesperson for the company said the region had a third more rain compared to 2022 and highlighted its investment in storm overflows.

The project in Coventry comes amid a £78 million scheme by the company to improve the health of rivers across Warwickshire according to a planning statement by Dalcour Maclaren. Severn Trent also aims to create two "bathing rivers" in the region, it said.

The site at Unicorn Lane is south of the Unicorn Pub and its car parks and the Allesley Green area of the city. It is also near homes on Unicorn Lane.

Plans for the site includes putting in a variety of technical equipment such as a spill chamber, an underground shaft rank, a cabinet and kiosk, fencing and a vent stack. These will allow an underground storage system to be built and operated, and other 'permitted development' the statement said.

The site at the moment is woodland and grassland, and the move would see its use changed from "amenity" to "operational." Some protected trees would need to be removed for the work, the planning statement added.

Experts have worked out the monetary value of the trees so compensation could be agreed with the council for their loss, it said. Many of the site's ash trees are suffering from disease and would likely need to be removed in five years for safety reasons, the report added.

Plants will also need to be cleared from the site to allow the work. There will also be changes to a junction so that vehicles can turn safely though council highways teams would need to allow this.

The statement also claimed that all possible other sites for the scheme had been "carefully reviewed and discounted" for a range of reasons. Plans can be viewed on the city council portal under reference: PL/2024/0000620/FUL.

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