Planning Awards Countdown: Award for Infrastructure Planning, sponsored by Burges Salmon

With the Planning Awards only five weeks away, we take a closer look at one of the shortlisted entries in the Award for Infrastructure Planning category.

Thirlmere Reservoir in Cumbria. Pic: United Utilties
Thirlmere Reservoir in Cumbria. Pic: United Utilties

West Cumbria Supplies - Thirlmere Transfer, United Utilities

The water supply to West Cumbria currently relies on protected water sources that are designated as Special Areas of Conservation, which means permission to continue using these sources ends in 2022. As a result, around 150,000 customers will be at high risk of water shortages.

To compensate for this, water company United Utilities has proposed a new water supply intended to offer greater reliability, protect the environment, and boost the local economy. The project involves running 100km of pipeline from Thirlmere Reservoir to West Cumbria and building large water treatment works in the Lake District National Park. A number of objectives and constraining factors had to be considered when planning the scheme. For example, the pipeline route had to take into account issues of ecology, heritage, landscape, ancient woodlands and hydraulic considerations.

The project has also involved extensive stakeholder engagement and working with numerous statutory bodies, planning authorities, and other interest groups. A unilateral undertaking that formed part of the section 106 agreement ensures that stakeholder engagement is maintained as the project moves forward. A steering group has been established to examine environmental management, compliance with planning conditions, and delivery of compensation. United Utilities signed a planning performance agreement with Natural England, the Environment Agency, the three local planning authorities, and Cumbria County Council. Final consent for the scheme was secured last November.

United Utilities’ planning team played a central role throughout the project - from the initial creation of a strategic environmental assessment and water resource management plan through to the consultation process and development of a detailed planning application. 

Other shortlisted entries:

Developer Lightsource Renewable Energy Holdings is behind the first solar farm in Ireland - which provides 27 per cent of the electricity for Belfast International Airport. The Crookedstone Road Solar Farm project involved site selection assessments and a comprehensive community engagement strategy. Upon completion, deviations from the approved plans were identified and a retrospective application was approved in January.

The Upper Orwell Crossings is a project involving the construction of three bridges across the River Orwell in Ipswich. Promoter Suffolk County Council hopes the scheme will relieve congestion, improve journey times, and connect deprived areas with employment opportunities. Consultation last summer involved 20,000 newsletters, 19 public meetings, and a social media campaign that reached 100,000 people.

In June 2015, consultancy LDA Design and developer Tidal Lagoon Power secured development consent for the world’s first purpose-built tidal-energy lagoon in Swansea Bay, which is expected to generate enough power for 155,000 homes. The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project will also provide a maritime park and sailing centre, beach and saltmarsh on a stretch of reclaimed seafront that has been inaccessible for more than a century.

The Planning Awards, London, 21 June 6.30-9.30pm: why attend?

This year, the Planning Awards, incorporating place-making categories, will be presented at a ceremony at Savoy Place in the heart of London on Wednesday 21 June. The event will bring together a mix of leading public and private sector built environment professionals, offering networking and learning opportunities throughout the evening. It will showcase the projects, plans and people behind the most outstanding planning and place-making work across the UK.

Details of how to obtain tickets can be found here.

Details of the full Planning Awards shortlist can be found here.

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