Sheffield, United Kingdom
City population: 548261
Duration: 2012 – 2021
Implementation status: Ongoing
Scale: Micro-scale: District/neighbourhood level
Project area: 26039 m2
Type of area: Other
Last updated: October 2021

Blackburn Meadows Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has a mesophilic anaerobic digestion facility, which enables the recycled sludge to be used on neighbouring farmlands as manure. It also enables the generation of renewable energy using combined heat and power units. All the upgrade works were to improve the quality of effluent being discharged into the River Don (ref 3). Sheffield City Council and Yorkshire Water leased an unused part of the former sewage works, to turn into a nature reserve which provides habitat for migrating birds. A water meadow created on vacant land promotes ecological biodiversity and floodwater attenuation (Ref5). In 2013, the works handle a dry weather flow of more than 158,000 cu m of sewage per day, with the treated effluent pumped into the river. It is one of Yorkshire Water’s biggest assets, but with a projected dry weather flow set to hit 368,000 cu m per day by 2025, it is in need of an upgrade (ref 6). The project is fragmented into two phases as the 1st phase was completed in 2013 and the 2nd phase will be completed by 2021 (ref 3).


Nature-based solution

  • Grey infrastructure featuring greens
  • Riverbank greens
  • Blue infrastructure
  • Rivers/streams/canals/estuaries

Key challenges

  • Water management (SDG 6)
  • Improvements to water quality
  • Green space, habitats and biodiversity (SDG 15)
  • Green space creation and/or management
  • Environmental quality
  • Waste management
  • Economic development and employment (SDG 8)
  • Employment/job creation


Creation of semi-natural blue areas, Other

Project objectives

1. The new sludge treatment facility enables the neighbouring farmlands to use the recycled sludge as manure. (re 1) 2. Tho attenuate odour control (ref 3) 3. Improvements to the storm overflow system, which holds additional volumes of wastewater during periods of heavy rainfall, reducing the risk of flooding and pollution incidents in the vicinity of the works.(ref 2) 4. Installing a new Sludge Digestion Plant (ref 2) 5. unused part of the former sewage works to be reclaimed and turned into a nature reserve - Blackburn Meadows which has the potential to be a flagship green space contributing to the regeneration of the Lower Don Valley. (ref 4 and 5) 6. Use the sludge from the treatment plant is used to produce methane gas and generate power through a combined heat and power plant (ref 6). 7. Phase 2 will replace the existing preliminary and primary treatment processes replaced and the existing secondary treatment process augmented, ensuring the facility meets tough final effluent guidelines under the EC Freshwater Fish Directive. (ref 6) 8. Will reduce the level of ammonia discharged from the site down to a quarter of its current level, and through improvements to the storm overflow system (ref 5).

Implementation activities

Blackburn Meadows Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) was upgraded recently. Upgradation works were carried out to improve the quality of effluent being discharged into the River Don and reducing the risk of flooding and pollution incidents in the vicinity of the works. (Ref 3) In Phase 2 a part of the land has been converted to a local nature reserve (Ref 4 and 5). In Phase 2, the plant upgrade work includes the installation of eight new primary settlement tanks. These huge circular tanks are constructed using cast-in-situ reinforced concrete and boast a diameter of 40 m and a floor sloping at 7 deg (ref 6)

Main beneficiaries

  • Local government/Municipality
  • Citizens or community groups


Management set-up

  • Co-governance with government and non-government actors

Type of initiating organisation

  • Local government/municipality

Participatory approaches/ community involvement

  • Unknown

Details on the roles of the organisations involved in the project

The reserve is managed by Sheffield City Council with Wildlife Trust assistance. (ref 1) Sheffield City Council negotiated with Yorkshire Water and leased an unused part of the former sewage works to enable it to be reclaimed and turned into a nature reserve. (ref 4 and 5)

Project implemented in response to ...

... an EU policy or strategy? Yes (EU) Freshwater Fish Directive (FDD) (Ref 3) compliance with the Water Framework Directive. (ref 2))
... a national policy or strategy? Unknown
... a local policy or strategy? Unknown


Total cost

More than €4,000,000

Source(s) of funding

  • Public local authority budget
  • Corporate investment

Type of funding

  • Earmarked public budget
  • Direct funding or subsidy

Non-financial contribution


Impacts and Monitoring

Environmental impacts

  • Environmental quality
  • Improved waste management
  • Water management and blue areas
  • Improved water quality
  • Green space and habitat
  • Restoration of derelict areas

Economic impacts

  • Other

Socio-cultural impacts

  • Unknown

Type of reported impacts

Expected impacts

Presence of formal monitoring system


Presence of indicators used in reporting

No evidence in public records

Presence of monitoring/ evaluation reports

No evidence in public records

Availability of a web-based monitoring tool

No evidence in public records