12-week period for public to review updated construction proposals, ahead of
application for Planning consent
Finalised proposals from Thames Water for the new ‘Supersewer’, needed to help tackle increasing sewage pollution to the tidal River Thames, have been unveiled for a 12-week public preview.
Following extensive consultation, the proposals are due to be submitted for scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate early next year. This independent process will determine whether the project can progress to the construction phase, currently scheduled to get under way in 2015 /16.
From Monday 16 July to 5 October 2012, details of the updated plans will be available online at www.thamestunnelconsultation.co.uk. Hard copies will be available at town halls in the 14 potentially directly affected boroughs.
The project team has identified 24 preferred construction sites, from Acton in the west to Abbey Mills in Stratford in the east. There the proposed 15-mile tunnel, the deepest and longest ever constructed in the capital, would join up with the Lee Tunnel, already under construction.
Along with separate work also under way to expand the capacity of the five sewage treatment works on the tidal River Thames, the tunnels’ purpose is to tackle the 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage that overflows into the river in a typical year when the capital’s Victorian sewerage network fills to capacity, sometimes after just 2mm of rainfall. The planned destination for discharges captured by both tunnels is Beckton Sewage Treatment Works in Newham.
From today, advertisements publicising the revised proposals for tackling the 34 most polluting discharge points (known as ‘combined sewer overflows’) through central London will run in local papers along the proposed tunnel route and other publications, in line with the requirements of the Planning Act (2008).
This legally required preview period, known as ‘Section 48 publicity’, is double that proposed originally by Thames Water, an extension made to recognise the clash with the peak summer holiday period and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The updated construction designs for the newly-rechristened ‘Thames Tideway Tunnel’ reflect consultation feedback provided by Londoners since September 2010. This includes comments received during a 28-day ‘targeted consultation’ on potential, relatively small changes at four sites (Barn Elms, Putney, Vauxhall and Victoria Embankment), which ended on 4 July 2012.
Phil Stride, Head of Thames Tideway Tunnel at Thames Water, said: “We are very grateful to the thousands of Londoners who took part in the consultation, helping us identify a design for the tunnel that meets the project’s objectives in a cost-effective way, whilst minimising disruption wherever we can.
“Obviously, it’s not been an easy process, and we are acutely aware that people living close to our preferred construction sites are very concerned about the potential local impacts. I can reassure them that we remain fully committed to working with them to find further ways of reducing the disturbance caused to nearby communities.
“As a result of consultation, we have already significantly increased our proposed use of barges to transport materials to and fro by river during the construction phase, to reduce lorry movements on local roads. The formal consultation process may now be over, but the dialogue on key issues such as this should and will continue.”
Formerly known as the Thames Tunnel, the project’s new name is itself a response to the consultation process.
Phil Stride explained: “Over the past two years, numerous groups and individuals have repeatedly pointed out to us that other Thames Tunnels already exist, including Marc Brunel’s original one in Rotherhithe, and one currently under construction by Crossrail. The tweak to our project title seeks to address their concerns and avoid creating unnecessary confusion.
“The new emphasis on the word ‘Tideway’ also has the benefit of highlighting the central purpose of the project, to address the growing and unacceptable discharge of untreated sewage into the tidal River Thames.”
- The Planning Inspectorate is the independent government agency responsible for operating the planning process for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs). The Infrastructure Planning Order, which designated the Thames Tideway Tunnel an NSIP, came into force on 23 June 2012.
- Thames Water’s first phase of public consultation for the project ran from 10 September 2010 to 14 January 2011. The second phase ran from 4 November 2011 to 10 February 2012.