Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum last week pledged their support for the proposed Thames Tunnel.
Over 200 Lords, MPs, Parliamentary workers and visiting members of the public attended an exhibition featuring the project, held in the Upper Waiting Hall within the Palace of Westminster.
Providing an update on progress with all the ‘London Tideway Improvements’, needed to tackle the growing levels of sewage in the River Thames, the exhibition was supported by ‘Thames Tunnel Now’, a coalition of charities and local groups, including two of its newest members, Richmond Environment Trust and London Youth Rowing.
The first to sign a pledge board confirming their support for the Thames Tunnel were MPs Nick Raynsford (Greenwich and Woolwich) and Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park), who both also paid tribute to the quality of Thames Water’s ongoing consultation for the project.
Signatories of the board later in the week included Water Minister, Richard Benyon MP(Newbury), his Labour opposite number, Gavin Shuker MP (Luton South), the Shadow Defra Secretary Mary Creagh MP (Wakefield), and backbenchers Jane Ellison (Battersea), Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden) and Dan Rogerson (North Cornwall).
Visitors to the exhibition from ‘the other place’ included Lord Granchester and the former chief executive of the Environment Agency, Baroness Young.
On 22 June 2012 the Water Minister Richard Benyon MP also signed an important legislative document, known as a ‘Section 14(3) Order’, which means the Thames Tunnel becomes a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ (NSIP). This followed an extensive period of scrutiny on the need for the project, in both the Commons and the Lords. The project can now proceed to be examined by the Planning Inspectorate, a process scheduled to begin early next year.
Before then the public will have an opportunity to review our finalised plans for the project, with details being made available online, in libraries and in other public buildings along the Thames Tunnel’s proposed route. This so-called ‘Section 48 Publicity’ will be advertised in local newspapers and other publications.