Thames Water today launched a 14-week consultation on plans to build a new ‘super sewer’ tunnel which the company says will “significantly reduce” the amount of sewage overflowing into the river.
Located approximately 75 metres below ground and spanning a total length of 20 miles, the tunnel will “broadly follow” the river’s path before taking one of three routes:
Thames Water Chief Executive Martin Baggs said the scheme was the “final and most challenging piece” of a wide-ranging plan to tackle the “significant environmental damage” of sewage overflowing into the Thames.
Thames say 57 overlow points along the river, originally intended as an occasional safety feature, now discharge sewage into the river “after as little as just 2mm of rainfall” around once a week.
The scheme is opposed by a number of bodies and groups including Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Acknowledging the need to tackle river pollution.
Deputy Leader Nick Botterill said it was important to consider “whether Londoners can really afford a £3.6 billion gold-plated solution” and warned “many hard-working families will be driven into water poverty as their bills go up to pay for it” if the scheme went ahead.
Cllr Botterill added: “A range of better options, that minimise the amount of sewage seeping into the Thames at a fraction of the disruption or cost, were discarded far too quickly. We have been lobbying for a shorter, smarter tunnel for sometime and Thames Water need to go back to the drawing-board now before they burden Londoners with an inflexible solution that costs the earth and may be obsolete within a life-time.”
As part of the consolation Thames will hold a series of public exhibitions from September 27th – see below for dates and locations – and interested parties can take part in the consultation at www.thamestunnelconsultation.co.uk
The company has also announced that Sustainability Director Richard Aylard will be taking part in two online chat events on Wednesday 15th September and Monday 27th September when he’ll answer questions about the scheme. The chats will be run via the www.tweetchat.com website using the hashtag #thamestunnel
Thames Water says it will “review” its plans in light of consolation responses ahead of a second consultation in 2011 before submitting a planning application in 2012.
Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Mike Tuffrey has called on the company to ensure the consultation is “real” and has warned that: “a cynical PR exercise by Thames Water to justify decisions already made would be totally counter productive in tackling one of London’s most serious pollution problems.”
Public exhibition dates
Monday 27 – Wednesday 29 September
Fishmongers’ Hall, London Bridge, EC4R 9EL: 10.30am–8pm (5pm, Wed)
Acton Library, Acton High Street, W3 6NA: 10.30am–8pm
Thursday 30 September – Friday 1 October
Thames Barrier Visitor Centre, 1 Unity Way, SE18 5NJ: 10.30am–8pm
Thursday 30 September – Saturday 2 October
Southside Shopping Centre, SW18 4TF: 10.30am–7pm (6pm, Fri & Sat)
Monday 4 – Wednesday 6 October
Surrey Quays Watersports Centre, Rope Street SE16 7SX: 10.30am-8pm
Chelsea Old Town Hall, Kings Road SW3 5EE: 10.30am-8pm
Thursday 7 – Saturday 9 October
Putney Exchange Shopping Centre, SW15 1TW: 10.30am-7pm (6pm, Fri & Sat)
Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN: 10.30am–8pm (5pm Sat)
Monday 11 – Tuesday 12 October
Linden House, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, W6 9TA: 10.30am–8pm
Beormund Community Centre: 177 Abbey Street, SE1 2AN: 10.30am-8pm
Thursday 14 – Friday 15 October
London Transport Museum, Covent Garden, WC2E 7BB: 10.30am-8pm
Monday 18 – Wednesday 20 October
John Scurr Community Centre, Bekesbourne Street, E14 7JQ: 10.30am-8pm
Thursday 21 October
St Marks Community Centre, Tollgate Rd, Beckton, E6 5YA: 10.30am–8pm
Thursday 21 – Friday 22 October
Stratford Old Town Hall, 29 The Broadway, Stratford, E15 4BQ: 10.30am–8pm.