Saltford Water Recycling Centre treats sewage and wastewater from Bath and the surrounding area so it can be safely returned to the environment.
To meet tighter regulations, which will improve river water quality, and to accommodate projected growth within the area, the site needs to be further developed in coming years.
The existing access road to Saltford site along Mead Lane is increasingly difficult, partly because of the amount of parked vehicles and narrow sections of the lane, but also because when the river level is high, it floods. A low bridge along the route also affects some vehicular access.
We therefore need to improve the approach to the site, which also houses our regional scientific centre that analyses thousands of water supply and waste water samples a day from across our region.
We are proposing to build a bridge over the River Avon, which will not only facilitate construction work, but provide a permanent access to the Saltford site. This will provide a connection to the A431 road, which runs through Swineford and Bitton.
Alternative routes have been explored, including a new 1.6 km road to connect to the A4, but this would have a significant impact on the Avon Valley landscape, result in much greater loss of greenbelt land and have a high impact on local ecology.
Our proposal is for the bridge to cross the river as shown on the plan below.
This is the most viable route, taking into account local environment and local ownership. The existing access road will remain open to ensure the site can be accessed from either side should there be the need, but there will be no through route for the public.
To support the local and community and the environment:
- The bridge will also provide a public footpath linking the A431 to the local public right of way network and the River Avon Trail. It will mean people who live on either side of the river will now have access by foot across it.
- There will be biodiversity gain and environmental improvement, including tree planting adjacent to both ends of the bridge. We are also proposing wetland habitat creation and are working with local wildlife groups and others to identify habitat measures, including supporting bat and bird species.
- We will be carrying out a traffic study so local people will know how many vehicles will be using the bridge during construction. When in use, the bridge is likely to be used by minimal vehicle numbers per day when compared to existing traffic along the A431 through Bitton.
- To address concerns over the A431 currently flooding in extreme weather conditions, as part of our design we are required to undertake flood modelling. Our proposal will not increase flood risk.
What happens next?
The planning application to Bath & North East Somerset Council for the bridge was approved subject to conditions in December 2021, following an application process that also heard comments about the proposal from the public. Updates on the next steps for the bridge will be made in early 2022.