Sir Neville Simms, Chair, Thames Tideway Tunnel

Sir Neville Simms FREng, one of the most experienced and distinguished figures in the UK infrastructure industry, has been appointed as Chairman of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, it was announced today.

The former Chief Executive of Tarmac and Chairman of Carillion will focus on preparing the landmark project for its move to the delivery phase, pending the granting of planning consent.

On Wednesday (4 December) Thames Water released the first tender documents for the project’s construction. This is the green light for the world-class list of short-listed construction contractors to work up designs and costings for the Western section of the tunnel. Similar “Invitations to Tender” (ITT) for the Central and Eastern sections will follow next year.

One of the Government’s top 40 National Infrastructure Projects, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, is urgently required to help tackle the discharge to the river of untreated sewage from London’s overstretched, Victorian sewerage network. Currently as little as 2mm of rainfall can trigger a discharge to the river’s tidal stretches through central London.

Following an extensive consultation process, the Planning Inspectorate is currently examining an application for approval to start construction work at 24 sites, from Acton in west London to Stratford in the east. The award of the construction contracts is scheduled for 2015, with the main tunnel works due to begin in 2016, lasting seven years.

During his 35-year career with Tarmac and its successor company Carillion, Sir Neville streamlined the business to ensure it survived the recession of the 1990s. He was a founder member of the Government’s Private Finance Panel and chaired Defra’s Sustainable Procurement Task Force.

Sir Neville said: “I am thrilled to be joining the team driving forward this much-needed addition to the nation’s infrastructure. The project is fundamental for London’s future growth and well being. I strongly believe that it is now the turn of our generation to repeat the foresight of our Victorian ancestors and ensure that the capital’s sewerage system is fit for purpose for the 22nd century. London and the country deserve nothing less.”

Sir Peter Mason, Chairman of Thames Water, said: “Spanning four decades, Sir Neville’s experience in delivering some of the UK’s most significant infrastructure projects, including the Thames Tidal Barrier and the Channel Tunnel, is exceptional. His appointment is extremely good news for the many people anxious for the Thames Tideway Tunnel to become a reality. I look forward to working with him to make this happen.

Information for editors:

Thames Tideway Tunnel

  • The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a major new sewer, urgently needed to help protect the tidal River Thames from increasing pollution. The main tunnel would be approximately 25km long, with an internal diameter of between 6.5 and 7.2 metres, the equivalent to the width of three London buses. The depth of the tunnel would be between 35 metres in west London and 65 metres in east London.
  • The proposed tunnel will last for at least 100 years and will ensure London’s sewerage system is ‘fit for purpose’, able to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population for generations to come.
  • The project is expected to create approximately 9,000 jobs.


Sir Neville Simms

  • A chartered civil engineer, Sir Neville Simms was born in Glasgow in 1944.
  • A graduate of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1966), he gained an MSc in Engineering from the University of Glasgow in 1970.
  • He began his career at Ove Arup and Partners, before joining the Tarmac group in 1970 as a site engineer. He rose through the ranks to be appointed CEO of Tarmac Construction in1988 and Group CEO of Tarmac plc in 1992. In 1999 he became Chairman of Carillion plc when the construction services activities of the Tarmac Group were demerged.
  • Sir Neville has held a variety of non-executive roles, including at Courtaulds plc, Bank of England, National Power plc, Duke Street Capital and the Private Finance Panel. He has held the Chairman’s role at Carillion plc, Equiniti Enterprises, Bombardier Transportation, and the Major Contractors Group.
  • In 2000 he became the Chairman of International Power plc, on its demerger from National Power and over the following eleven years led the Board which grew the business threefold until the combination of generating assets and eventual full purchase, of the company by GDFSuez in 2012, at a substantial premium for shareholders.
  • Currently he is deputy chairman of GDFSuez Energy International and chairman of OasisIP LLC, incorporated in Abu Dhabi. He is a member of the President’s Committee of the CBI and also chairs the Building Research Establishment (BRE) Trust.
  • Knighted in 1998 for services to construction, Sir Neville has been a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering since 1996.
  • He was made a Prince of Wales Ambassador for his work with Business in the Community (BITC) in Balsall Heath in the West Midlands, where he set up and chaired the Regional Leadership Team and was a governor of the Ashridge Management College Trust for nine years.
  • He lives on the south coast of England with his wife, Lady Margaret.


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