An independent, public examination of Thames Water’s detailed proposals for the Thames Tideway Tunnel will commence after Easter, it was confirmed today

The Planning Inspectorate has today confirmed that the application for Development Consent for the ‘Supersewer’, submitted by Thames Water (28 February 2013) is a valid one. This means that the Inspectorate has accepted that Thames Water’s consultation for the project, which started in September 2010, was adequate.

The Planning Inspectorate will now post Thames Water’s 50,000 page submission, covering 24 proposed construction sites, on its website for public scrutiny (

Phil Stride, Head of Thames Tideway Tunnel at Thames Water, said: “The team has worked extremely hard over many months to ensure that the application is of a high standard, addressing a wide variety of issues that were raised during the consultation.

“It’s a necessarily lengthy document, covering 24 proposed construction sites in detail, as well as project-wide issues. We have made particular efforts to make the documentation easy for members of the public to navigate, with clear sign posting of issues relating to individual sites. Local residents should not need to read all of the submission, just the sections relevant to their community.”

Anyone with views about the Thames Tideway Tunnel can register with the Planning Inspectorate to take part in the examination of the application. The period of registration will be announced on the Thames Tideway Tunnel website, through adverts in national and local newspapers and in notices at the 24 proposed construction sites.

Once registration closes, the next stage is a Preliminary Meeting. This is expected to be held by the Examining Authority, a panel of up to five inspectors appointed by the Planning Inspectorate, in September 2013.

The Preliminary Meeting is an opportunity for registered interested parties to raise procedural matters with the Authority about how the application should be examined. In particular, matters concerning the proposed examination timetable, which will be circulated by the Planning Inspectorate to all registered interested parties in advance of the Preliminary Meeting.

Within the next few weeks, Thames Water will make hard copies of the full document available at six locations across London. Venue information and dates will be confirmed shortly.

The full hard copy documentation will then continue to be available at three locations until the Planning Inspectorate has concluded its examination of the proposals. This is expected to take about six months from the date of the Preliminary Meeting. Once the Planning Inspectorate has concluded its examination, a recommendation on whether or not to grant approval will be submitted approximately three months later to DCLG and DEFRA Secretaries of State. The final decision is expected in late summer/early autumn 2014.

In line with the Planning Act 2008, Thames Water will now write to residents and owners of land adjacent to the route of the project’s component tunnels and construction sites, from Acton in the west to Abbey Mills in the east.  It will also write to prescribed consultees, such as local authorities and statutory bodies.

The company will also be posting formal legal notices at each of the proposed construction sites.

Adverts will appear in local newspapers circulating in areas potentially affected by the construction work, as well as in The Times and the London Evening Standard.  The adverts will explain how members of the public can formally register with the Planning Inspectorate to be an interested party. Only those who register are entitled to take part in the examination of this application.

If consent is granted, preparatory construction work on the project is scheduled to start in 2015, with main tunnelling due to begin in 2016. The target completion date is 2023.


Notes to editors
• The Planning Inspectorate is the independent government agency responsible for operating the planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs), such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

• Thames Water’s proposals for the project require a number of construction sites, from Acton in the west to Abbey Mills in the east. There the 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 tunnel’s purpose is to tackle the 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage that currently overflows into tidal stretches of the river in a typical year, when the capital’s Victorian sewerage network fills to capacity, sometimes after just 2mm of rainfall.

• The tunnels will convey the excess sewage for processing to stringent standards at Beckton Sewage Treatment Works, with green energy being generated from the resulting sludge, before the treated water is returned to the River Thames.  

• All three schemes are needed to ensure the UK meets the requirements of the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.

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