Say no to the Thames Tunnel

Published: Wednesday 29th December 10

The council is urging residents to voice their concerns about the Thames Tunnel project before the public consultation ends on January 14.

The scheme, which is being developed by Thames Water, would create six major construction sites across Wandsworth and a seventh at Barn Elms Playing Fields on the boundary with Richmond. 

For an overview of the project and a full account of the council's concerns visit

Council leader Edward Lister said: "Thames Water's scheme will have severe and far reaching impacts for our residents. It's extremely important that local people familiarise themselves with the project and respond to the consultation.

"In the mean time we are pressing Thames Water to publish full environmental impact assessments for every potential worksite. So far their consultation documents have focussed on the sites they would prefer to use and have very little information about the alternatives. This is not a fair or transparent approach as it prevents people from making comparisons between the different locations."

Wandsworth Council has serious concerns about the proposed Thames Tunnel scheme and in particular the use of Barn Elms Playing Fields as a main drive shaft site - this could cause irreparable damage to both the open space and the riverside towpath.

Councillors remain unconvinced that the tunnel is the best way of cleaning up the Thames and fear the huge environmental impacts will outweigh any potential improvements in water quality.

Cllr Lister continues: "Because the scheme is being treated as a national infrastructure project Thames Water will not need local authority planning consent for its  worksites. The council opposed these national changes during its successful campaign against the third runway. It was wrong for councils to be cut out of the Heathrow planning process and it would be equally wrong to be bypassed by the Thames Tunnel decision.

"We don't believe planning decisions for the local sites should be taken without substantial involvement on the part of the local authority which will be much more sensitive to the local impacts."

According to the water company's project timetable a second round consultation will take place in 2011 and a full planning application will be submitted in 2012.  The seven year construction programme would commence in 2013 and complete in 2020.



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Recent comments

It is sad that the borough should take this attidude to one of its most valuble assets. I am an oarsmen based in Putney and I am out on the river almost every day from October to August each year. As a result I have experienced at first hand ( and smell) the problems with the existing sewers. Thames Water have gone to a lot of trouble and expense to reseach the best solution to the growing problem of storm water discharges into the river. I cannot believe that they would not have looked at all the alternative before comming up with their proposals. Are the councillors more qualified in technical matters such as sewer design than Thames Water? Would they be happy with the river regressing back to dead stinking ditch.
R Philips

6 January 2011

Thames Water say that the decrease in natural drainage areas in London's overbuilt environment has significantly contributed to the problems of excess rainwater overloading the sewage system and escalating pollution into the Thames. But their solution of building large tunnel construction sites on green areas reinforces the problem. They have made little effort so far to acquire brownfield sites. Taking greenfield land in their view is easier than negotiating with owners of brownfield land awaiting development. It would seem they would prefer to protect big business interests rather than the open spaces along London's riverside. Does London need more riverside appartment blocks or the Thames Tunnel to be constructed?
Penny Dearsley

5 January 2011

As I understand it the council is primarily opposing the proposed position of the main drive shaft and arguing (completely sensibly in my view) that a brownfield site is far more appropriate than a beautiful greenfield site to locate such a huge project. Cleaning up the river is vital but not at the expense of important (and much loved and used) greenfield spaces.

2 January 2011

This tunnel has to be built and because it will cause some residents major inconvienince this is no reason for the council to oppose it.
charles cronin

31 December 2010