Council says no to Barn Elms tunnel
Release date: Friday 19th November 10
Wandsworth Council has opposed plans by Thames Water to base a seven-year tunnelling operation on Barn Elms playing fields.
Councillors say the proposal would be severely disruptive to local people, result in an unacceptable loss of green space and would have serious impacts on the riverside towpath which has a unique rural character and is extremely well used by residents living Putney.
The water company want to use the site to construct a section of the Thames Tunnel - a new 'super sewer' running from west to east London.
Councillors are unconvinced that Barn Elms is the right location for these highly disruptive works and are demanding a comprehensive and convincing justification.
Because the Thames Tunnel scheme would be classified as a national infrastructure project Thames Water will not need local authority planning permission and can take control of the site using compulsory purchase powers.
Doubts have also been raised about the financial viability of the entire project given today's tough economic climate. Thames Water is planning to pass on the costs to Londoners through raising water bills.
Wandsworth Council's strategic planning spokesman Cllr Ravi Govindia said:
"We are fundamentally opposed to the Barn Elms site and have serious reservations about the viability of the whole project in its current form.
"Serious questions remain unanswered and we are not convinced that all alternative locations to Barn Elms have been considered.
"While we support investment in the capital's sewage system we are concerned that the enormous costs and disruption involved in this scheme will outweigh the potential benefits. All of Thames Water's assumptions about the time, land take and construction methodology must face searching examination.
"We will use every opportunity to contest this proposal and protect the interests of our residents."
Excavated spoil from the tunnelling operation would be transported out of the site on the Thames. This is expected to severely disrupt nearby rowing clubs and other recreational river users.
Barn Elms playing fields are based just over the borough boundary in Richmond but are owned and managed by Wandsworth Council.
Wandsworth's concerns are set out in a formal response to the first round consultation on the Thames Tunnel scheme. A second round of consultations will take place in 2011 and Thames Water is expected to submit a full planning application in mid 2012, with the seven year construction programme commencing in 2013.
For more information contact the Wandsworth Council press team at email@example.com.
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I am delighted with the unequivocal reaction of the Council to these horrendous proposals.There has to be a site that would be less destructive of people and their sport and recreation - not to mention bicycle travel and pleasure as well as wild life. The carefully managed 'Wetlands' sanctuary would be severely traumatised.Dr Thomas King, Putney
20 November 2010
Pleased to see the Council is on board - thank you. What I don't think Thames Water understands is that this is not a NIMBY inititative on the residents part - but rather an appeal to common sense that other, already identified potential sites make much more sense. The tow path and riverside area connecting Putney with Barnes are fundamental attractions for many people. This construction will irrevocably take this away from all of us...not to mention the congestion on the roads leading in and around Barnes and Putney (thought about those trips to Heathrow? Think about adding another hour to your journey). And do you think a migrating bird will come within miles of the Wetland centre with this kind of construction on the go?C Dennis, Putney
22 November 2010
Very glad WBC has come out robustly against TW tunnel scheme going ahead in Barn Elms or indeed at all in the present ill thought out format. Just as well you have relented as I was not going to vote Conservative at next council election if you had not taken this course of action. It would be best if Justine Greening also understood that the conservative party will not be reelected if she allows this scheme to proceed in what amount to the tory part of her ward! get real please politicians. We put up with lots of things we dont approve of from you but we will not put up with this and re elect a conservative or lib dem if this goes ahead. I speak for everyone I know too.V Featherstone, Putney
22 November 2010