Updated: 8 September 2023
Work to finalise pipeline routes and pumping station locations is ongoing. Once agreements are in place with landowners, and those directly affected by pipeline routes have been informed we will announce the details to Garff Commissioners and then the general public. Due to the reliance of third parties throughout this process we unfortunately cannot give a firm timeline. We are hopeful that it will be in the near future and are doing all we can to progress this as a priority.
We have become aware of some questions being asked on the selection of sites and some wider issues relating to the project, so have created a set of Frequently Asked Questions which can be found here.
Updated: 2 August 2023
We have now tested soil samples from the Axnfell Plantation, Glen Garwick and other infrastructures sites and the results are being assessed by our Consultants.(Samples were taken for the Cairn site previously).
Designs of the works are continuing at the Cairn and Glen Garwick for the pumping stations and the environmental scoping report is being finalised.
Updated: 4 July 2023
We are continuing the design of the works at the Cairn and Glen Garwick for the pumping stations and all ground investigations are now complete. Soil samples are currently being tested and analysed. Once this information is available it will allow the design to be completed.
We are progressing negotiations with landowners for the intermediate pumping station sites and also advancing these designs as far as possible.
Updated: 31 May 2023
The strategy for Garff remains the provision of a combined regional treatment works to treat flows from both Laxey and Baldrine catchments in one location, with treated wastewater being discharged via Laxey outfall. The works will not prevent “Excellent” bathing water quality being achieved within Laxey Bay.
Throughout our site selection process, which has looked at over 50 sites, we have been acutely aware of trying to find a balance between the proximity of residential properties with environmental impacts. Noting that our proposals to utilise the Cairn site for a treatment works were rejected, the Axnfell site provides a really pragmatic overall solution. The assessment has considered highway issues, carbon footprint, proximity to residential areas, environmental impact and of course cost.
Operational traffic impact will be small, with two operational vehicles each work-day accessing the site. We will ensure that these visits are undertaken outside of commuting hours. The intermediate pump stations are small footprint sites and will be below ground level, with compact green cabinets and in one case, an electrical sub-station, screened from the road. Our sites are provided with silent alarms that send notifications to a central control centre so are not audible.
We recognise that there will be some disturbance caused by the construction works for a defined period, and we will work with neighbours to minimise this, primarily by requiring the contractors to access the site via the Creg-ny-Baa Back Road and Ballacollister Road.
Axnfell was originally planted between 1951 and 1967. The proposed site within the plantation covers no more than 2% of the total plantation footprint and is preferred as it has very little broadleaved tree cover and very limited ground flora when compared to other plantation locations. As part of the environmental mitigation, we will plant compensatory habitat.
Natural screening will be provided on three sides, with additional planting along the road to encourage screening along this frontage as soon as possible. There will be no fixed lighting at the site.
The type of equipment we have chosen provides for a completely covered treatment process and is coupled with class leading odour control. We currently have 18 sewage treatment works operating around the Island, 13 of which are a similar treatment process to that planned at Garff, many of which are in far closer proximity to residences than proposed at Axnfell. No large chimneys are proposed.
The proposed works will bring about huge environmental benefit to Laxey Bay and ensure that sewage discharges no longer have an adverse impact on bathing water. To minimise energy use a turbine is proposed to be installed at the Cairn site on the return pipeline to generate some 60% of the power required to pump up to the Axnfell site. This is only possible on treated sewage effluent.
Having now completed the major site investigations, we are currently finalising the environmental impact scoping report.
All of the works will be subject to a formal Planning application when individuals will be able to comment. We intend to hold an engagement/exhibition event before this date to allow any positive changes to be included.
Following a request from Garff Commissioners we are meeting with the Auditor General in June and look forward to presenting him with the comprehensive work undertaken to date.
Updated: 20 April 2023
Garff - Site investigations are being completed at Glen Garwick and pipeline routes are being finalised to the Axnfell Plantation. Designs are continuing to be developed for those sites currently in Manx Utilities ownership.
We undertook a Tynwald Briefing on 19 April regarding the Island Plan, which includes the delivery of the Regional Sewage Treatment Strategy for Peel and Garff. The Island Plan is to be debated in Tynwald on 25 April 2023.
Routine updates will now be published on a monthly basis.
Updated: 11 April 2023
Provisional layout of proposed Axnfell works:
Updated: 5 April 2023
We have arranged an update meeting with the Clerks of Garff Commissioners pending a potential announcement on our preferred site in Garff next week.
Updated: 22 March 2023
The next update will be provided on 5 April 2023
Updated: 9 March 2023
The Council of Ministers were recently updated with regard to the timeline for delivery of the RSTS2 Projects in order to appraise them and to allow an update to the Island Plan. Given the time it has taken to resolve the land acquisition requirements for both catchments, completion of the Peel scheme is now anticipated by the end of 2025 and Garff in early 2026.
Ground investigation contractors will be commencing work next week at various sites to allow the designs to be progressed.
Announcements will be made regarding treatment works sites as soon as we possibly can and we thank the people that we have been dealing with for their willingness to engage with us on this important national matter.
Updated: 23 February 2023
The next update will be provided on 9 March 2023.
Updated: 8 February 2023
Designs are progressing well for the pump station sites at both the Cairns and Glen Garwick.
It is intended that an announcement will be made in the near future regarding the proposed site of the sewage treatment works.
The concept design of the Cairns site pumping station is shown below along with a description of the proposed works;
We have publish here an outline plan of the proposed works to be carried out at The Cairn site opposite Laxey Harbour. Access from Breeze Hill will be via a tarmacked roadway with a foot-path to one side which will maintain the public right of way.
All of the sewers in Laxey currently converge at this point, and new below-ground pumps will be installed to take this flow to a site away from the tourist centre and outside the village. The sewer flow will be treated at the new location and then the treated effluent returned via a parallel pipe to be discharged to sea through the existing outfall. The control building will also hold ultra-violet equipment and an energy recovery turbine to help offset pumping costs. This turbine will recover around 60% of the electricity used to pump to the treatment works.
Alongside the pump well will be a large buried storm tank. This has been sized at around 600 cubic metres – 600,000 litres - to capture storm flows during heavy rain. This allows them to be pumped at a later time for treatment once rainfall has receded. The immediate area of the storm tank, pump well and control building will be grasscreted. This is a concrete surface with small pockets in it to allow grass to grow through, whilst still providing a firm standing for maintenance vehicles.
During construction it is anticipated that a temporary bridge will be positioned across to the site from the harbour boat park.
The existing small storm tank below the concrete apron will be decommissioned and this corner of the site close to the footpath up the side of the harbour will be protected by a new low wall. A long Manx Hedge bank will be created facing the boat park and adjacent properties to the Laxey Bridge, and this will be planted with native species to create an attractive boundary to the facility.
The finishes of roofs and walls will be developed and agreed with planners and in consultation with Garff Commissioners.
Updated: 25 January 2023
We are aware there is frustration felt by all of the communities involved, that the nationally significant regional sewage treatment strategy has yet to reach its conclusion. This frustration is shared by Manx Utilities and we very much hope that it is appreciated that we are progressing as quickly as we can; albeit constrained by the understandable time it can take to negotiate and complete on land acquisitions. Our team remain committed and are working very hard to deliver regional sewage treatment solutions for the remaining catchments of Peel, Laxey and Baldrine.
Designs are progressing well for the pump station sites at both the Cairns and Glen Garwick. Ground probing radar surveys for sections of the pipeline route out of lower Laxey are currently being scheduled.
We remain grateful to the various landowners that we are in discussion with regarding the land we need, especially for treatment and pumping locations. Manx Utilities is confident that these matters can shortly be resolved and that it can then present its final solution to the Garff community.
Updated: 11 January 2023
Ceasing the discharge of raw effluent to sea within the Sheading of Garff remains a priority for Manx Utilities and we appreciate the public’s patience whilst we negotiate through this complex delivery process; whilst being respectful of the land owners involved.
We understand the frustration of what appears to be minimal progress however a great deal of design work is being undertaken in parallel to the land acquisition process. We therefore remain committed on completing the regional sewage treatment strategy for our Island.
Updated: 20 December 2022
The next update will be provided on 11 January 2023.
Updated: 8 December 2022
Design of infrastructure on Manx Utilities’ owned land is progressing well, with concept designs of the pumping stations at both the Cairn Site and Glen Garwick now complete. These concepts were presented to Garff Commissioners at their meeting on Wednesday 7 December, along with an update on the overall project. Unfortunately no details of the proposed treatment works site can be given until land negotiations are complete, and these remain ongoing.
Overall, we continue to remain committed to delivering the proposed solutions to both communities as soon as possible.
Updated: 21 November 2022
Our work towards delivering a final solution for Garff continues, with negotiations ongoing with landowners for the multiple sites required for the combined treatment works solution. Design of infrastructure on Manx Utilities’ owned land is progressing well.
Updated: 8 November 2022
Our work towards delivering a final solution for Garff continues, most notably in terms of securing a site for our proposed treatment works.
We have been made aware of a leaflet that has been distributed to some properties in Garff which we believe contains incorrect and misleading information. Whilst we recognise everyone’s right to an opinion, we must make sure that the public is aware of the factual position:
- The centralised sewage treatment philosophy, known as IRIS, was replaced by a regional approach in 2009 due to the recognition that pumping sewage around the Island was neither sustainable nor cost effective. Numerous reviews of the strategy since that date have confirmed that a regional approach is cheaper to construct and operate and in our most recent evaluation has a significantly lower carbon footprint than centralisation. Phase 1 of the Regional Sewage Treatment Strategy was completed successfully between 2010 and 2017, considerably under the approved budget.
- As such, Manx Utilities are in the process of finalising the procurement of a parcel of land for a combined sewage treatment works to treat sewage from both Laxey and Baldrine. The actual location for this works cannot be disclosed until the purchase of the land is complete. It will however be away from the residential populous and avoid the need for any additional traffic to pass through either Laxey or Baldrine villages.
- The sewage treatment process adopted for our regional works, using Integrated Rotating Biological Contactors (IRBCs), is a tried and tested process both in the United Kingdom and over the last 10 years on the Isle of Man. It offers equivalent treatment quality to that of the central Meary Veg works. Modern odour control equipment will ensure that odours aren’t an issue, and the design will be sympathetic to the local environment to ensure there is minimal visual impact. Please refer to the photograph of our latest installation in Ballaugh which was commissioned earlier this year.
- The final effluent produced by the treatment works will adhere to the requirements as set by DEFA, and will allow Laxey’s beach to achieve the ‘Excellent’ bathing water status under the Island’s bathing water regulations. This will also allow the beach to achieve ‘Blue Flag’ status, subject to a number of other criteria being met, unrelated to sewerage infrastructure.
We strongly believe that the best solution for the management of Laxey and Baldrine’s sewage is the one that offers a low carbon footprint, low cost, and low community impact. Our proposed solution has a significantly lower carbon footprint than a centralised (pump away to IRIS) approach and is considerably cheaper from both a capital and whole-life costing perspective. It delivers on all of the bathing water quality objectives and has low community impact.
We want to deliver our proposed solution as quickly as possible and hope that this information allows the public to avail themselves of the facts.
Updated: 26 October 2022
Negotiations are ongoing with the owner of the preferred parcel of land for the treatment works. Negotiations for the land required for intermediate pumping stations has progressed positively and we have commenced the legal process of acquiring the land we need.
The design has commenced for works at both pump station locations where the land is in MU ownership and held pre-application discussions with the Planning Department prior to submission of full planning applications.
Updated: 12 October 2022
Start-up meetings have been held with design engineers and work is now underway on the design of the proposed infrastructure.
Updated: 28 September 2022
Contracts have now been awarded for geotechnical investigative works which will be required to inform the design at all locations. These works, along with topographical surveys will commence as soon as possible on Manx Utilities’ owned sites. The remaining surveys will be completed once agreements are in place for the purchase of the outstanding land required.
Start-up meetings will be held with design engineers for both catchments this week.
Updated: 14 September 2022
Appointments have now been approved (subject to contract) for the design and environmental consultants, quantity surveyors and planning supervisors and start up meetings are being organised. We have held pre-application meetings with the planners to determine the format and deliverables required for a formal Planning application. Other stakeholder discussions are progressing which include land acquisition for each catchment area.
Updated: 1 September 2022
We have now confirmed the scope of works for the design and environmental consultants, quantity surveyors and planning supervisors and are currently finalising appointments. Following this, site investigations and ecological surveys will be procured following stakeholder discussions. These surveys and investigations are vital to planning applications and developing sustainable designs solutions.
Discussions will be held with Planners in the next month to ensure that our Environmental Impact Assessments cover the appropriate issues and that all achievable mitigations can be implemented.
Updated: 10 August 2022
The next update will be published on 31 August.
Updated: 27 July 2022
Tynwald approved an additional £16.95 million expenditure to the previously approved £23.5 million to complete the Island’s Regional Sewage Treatment Strategy on 19 July 2022. Work will now progress on providing first time sewage treatment for the remaining catchments of Peel, Baldrine and Laxey, which is to be completed by 2024.
These funds will support the building of a combined treatment plant for Laxey and Baldrine, land acquisition requirements and a treatment facility in Peel. These funds also cover additions for construction material inflation over the intervening period and also measures taken in the revised designs to address the concerns of residents. Part will also be invested to support the additional needs at Meary Veg Sewage Treatment facility which processes sludge from the regional plants. The regional strategy supports Government's carbon targets.
Our team are now preparing for detailed ground investigation activities to be undertaken by specialists and for the detailed design phase which will be a precursor to public exhibitions showing the proposal prior to planning applications being submitted.
Updated: 13 July 2022
We continue to undertake stakeholder engagement activities leading up to the Motion being placed before Tynwald on 19 July 2022. In addition to the Briefing in the Barrool Suite for All Tynwald Members on 29 June 2022, we have also organised presentations by APEM Ltd on bathing water quality for Tynwald Members and also Local Authorities this week. The bathing water presentation is being conducted by APEM’s principle aquatic scientist who has worked with the UK Environment Agency as the national policy advisor on bathing water and was involved in the creation of the Isle of Man’s Water Quality (Bathing Water Standards and Objectives) Scheme 2021.
We remain committed to delivering the final stages of the Sewage Treatment Strategy for the Island to bring an end to the disposal of raw sewage to sea in the remaining catchments of Baldrine, Laxey and Peel.
Updated: 30 June 2022
The next update will take place following the Motion being presented to Tynwald on 19 July 2022 for additional funding. In the meantime we provided a briefing to All Tynwald Members on 29 June 2022, in advance of the Sitting.
Updated: 14 June 2022
The Council of Ministers have now approved the submission of a motion to the July sitting of Tynwald [https://www.tynwald.org.im/business/opqp/sittings/20212026/MUA-REG-SEW-TREAT-MEMO.pdf] where additional funding will be requested to allow the completion of the Island’s remaining regional works in Garff and Peel, along with upgraded sludge reception facilities at Meary Veg.
Updated: 27 May 2022
We are currently focused on obtaining the required approvals to progress the programme, and hope to provide more details in our next scheduled update on 13 June or as soon as possible after that.
Updated: 16 May 2022
Work continues in earnest to gain the necessary approvals to allow the preferred schemes in both Peel and Garff to progress. Business cases were presented to Treasury for each location last week and we remain on course to submit detailed planning applications later this year.
We continue to meet with local stakeholder groups on a regular basis and our Chair Rob Callister MHK recently attended a meeting in Garff and our officers met stakeholders in Peel.
As a follow-up to a recent enquiry, specialist consultant analyses has confirmed that the concentration of PCBs in the Raggatt leachate are minimal and well below laboratory detection limits accepted by the UK Environment Agency. The review further confirmed that a high percentage of PCBs would be removed or absorbed through the sewage treatment process that is being proposed by Manx Utilities
Updated: 3 May 2022
Work continues in earnest to gain the necessary approvals to allow the preferred schemes in both Peel and Garff to progress as a matter of urgency.
The software that controls the pumping station on Peel Promenade has been modified in order to allow sewage to only be discharged on an outgoing tide (when weather conditions permit). This change was implemented on the 1st May and should reduce the impact of the sewage discharge on bathing water quality during dry weather.
Updated: 19 April 2022
It can now be confirmed that the Manx Utilities Board, on Friday 25 March, agreed that a regional approach for both Garff and Peel will be progressed on the basis that it provides the best solution in terms of both cost and quality. The programme is now very much in the delivery phase and the team have commenced work on all of the approvals required so that the build phase can commence.
Exact details of preferred sites will not be released until we have completed all of the governance necessary to acquire the sites we need as we have a duty of care to safeguard anyone we may be in discussion with. The project team can confirm that in Garff the preferred solution is for a single treatment works to serve both Laxey and Baldrine at a location between the two villages. As such there are no plans for anything other than pumping stations at either the Cairn site or on the Glen Garwick estate. Unfortunately this cannot be avoided but will have minimal impact on the surrounding areas. All of this remains subject to planning approvals.
We continue to work closely with representatives in both catchments and would like to thank them for their valued time to date in assisting progression of the options.
Updated: 4 April 2022
The Manx Utilities Board met on Friday 25 March and agreed a way forward for both Garff and Peel. We are committed to updating local stakeholder groups and land owners in the coming days as a first priority.
We are now in the delivery phase of this essential programme and are looking forward to working with Government on this aspect of the Island Plan to deliver the final stages of modern sewage treatment to Garff and Peel and importantly complete the overall sewerage treatment solution for the Isle of Man.
Updated: 21 March 2022
Representatives from Manx Utilities met with Peel Commissioners on the evening of the 17 March to provide an update on progress.
Project teams have completed their studies and will be making recommendations to the Manx Utilities Board on Friday the 25 March as to the best way forward for both Peel and Garff on a combined cost and quality basis.
Updated: 7 March 2022
Representatives from Manx Utilities met with Garff Commissioners and local MHKs on the evening of the 23 February to provide an update on progress.
Project teams remain on course to make recommendations to the Manx Utilities Board on Friday the 25 March. Whole Life Costing exercises are being finalised and the conclusions of the studies compiled to determine the best way forward for both areas on a combined cost and quality basis.
An informal meeting was held with representatives of Peel Town Commissioners and a representative of the local community on Thursday 3 February. The meeting was very constructive and discussed a wide range of concerns. It was agreed that regular meetings of a similar nature would be useful moving forward, with greater community representation to be considered.
Updated: 21 February 2022
The final phase of the sewage treatment strategy for the Island is focused on delivering first time sewage treatment for Laxey, Baldrine and Peel. Options are being fully assessed for local treatment works’ locations as well as pump away solutions to establish a positive outcome as soon as possible.
A rigorous ‘coarse screening’ process has been completed scoring over 40 potential sites against criteria comprising:
- Adequate space
- Zoning/land use
- Proximity to residential areas
- Conservation/high landscape or coastal value and scenic significance
- Ecological barriers
For each area the coarse screening exercise has led to the selection of a small number of options which are now being looked at in more detail in order to determine the preferred solution to take forward. A concept design (comprising site layout and pipeline routes) for each option has been created and a desktop environmental review has been completed (including carbon footprint calculations) to allow a further ‘fine screening’ assessment to be undertaken which adds a further level of rigour where the following criteria are being assessed in greater detail:
- Land use/zoning
- Future growth capacity
- Proximity to residential areas
- Environmental impact
- Carbon cost
- Complexity & deliverability
- Community opportunity & benefit
Each of the shortlisted sites and pump away solutions are being scored against the above and are then being costed with the ‘whole life costs’ developed over periods of 25 and 50 years.
The cost and quality scores will be combined on a 70:30 quality: cost ratio (also undergoing a sensitivity check at 50:50) to ensure the best solution is chosen, not necessarily the cheapest.
This is one of the most comprehensive reviews of sites and solutions that Manx Utilities have undertaken and each site has to be considered individually and in some cases in combination.
It is our intention to have preferred options for all areas identified by the end of March. This is subject to positive land owner engagement. Once the preferred options have been agreed we will be able to confirm the delivery programme. We remain on course for completion of all works by the end of 2024.
The bathing water quality standards required for any solution proposed are defined by Tynwald and will be in accordance with parameters set by DEFA. Manx Utilities are designing to achieve the ‘Good’ standard of the 2006 EU Bathing Water Directive as required by the Isle of Man’s Water Pollution (Bathing Water Standards and Objectives) Scheme 2021.
We are also investigating what may be required should this be changed to the ‘Excellent’ element of the standard in the future; this will ensure that there is nothing within the design that prohibits any enhancement required in the future should the local Commissioners decide that Blue Flag beach status is an aspiration they would like to work towards.
Blue flag status requires ‘Excellent’ bathing water quality along with the adoption of over 30 other environmental and hygiene/facility factors including control of dogs, provision of lifeguards and many other aspects which would need consideration by local Commissioners. Water quality is only covered in four of the ‘blue flag’ criteria. Further details can be found here: https://www.blueflag.global/criteria.
The discharge of any flows into rivers is controlled by DEFA whom determine acceptability and appropriate parameters.
National Importance, Long Term View and Costing
Resolving the sewage treatment issue in the remaining catchments of Garff and Peel is a matter of national importance. Manx Utilities has sought assistance from professional consulting engineers with a robust and extensive international reputation who are also very familiar with the Isle of Man, the existing sewerage infrastructure and the operation of local and central government.
Whole-life-cost Net Present Value or ‘NPV’ calculations over 25-year and 50-year periods have been developed. These are pragmatic assessment periods that take into account the best estimates for the civil, mechanical and electrical engineering capital and operating expenditure for the solutions proposed.
Sewage pumping costs will be included in the NPV calculations for all options short-listed to ensure these are adequately assessed. Cost sensitivity analysis is also forming part of these calculations to determine if any selection ranking is influenced by construction cost or power cost rises – as seen recently.
Electricity consumption for all solutions is based on all supplies being taken from future national infrastructure, ensuring it does not assume benefits which are unrealistic.
The impact of tankering sludge is being taken into full consideration in the selection process.
Designs will be based on the current and predicted Population Equivalent (PE) values for 2021 and 2050. These values take into account current population and an assessment based on published regional plans to predict future demands. Future expansion beyond the 2050 PE value will also be considered.
- Five preferred options for local treatment are now under consideration with concept designs complete. This includes options for a combined works located between Laxey and Baldrine
- Discussions with landowners have commenced to help determine the viability of each option
- The pump to Meary Veg option is being reviewed with various pipeline routes being considered
- The need for extension, replacement or relocation of the outfall pipes at Laxey and Baldrine for all solutions are being reviewed
- Options for short term improvement have been investigated but none identified as offering significant benefit
- Issues identified with the failed planning application for a works in Laxey will be considered prior to any further application being made for any site
- Further public consultation will be undertaken prior to any planning applications being submitted