Hopes for Barn Elms rethink
Published: Monday 31st January 11
A top level meeting with Thames Water has raised hopes that the company is rethinking its plan to base a major tunnelling operation on Barn Elms Playing Fields.
Last week, council leader Edward Lister met with managing director of the Thames Tunnel project Jim Otta to press home just how unacceptable the current proposals are for local people.
Mr Otta said that they had listened carefully to local concerns and were looking seriously at alternative sites and tunnelling options that could significantly reduce their requirements at Barn Elms.
Cllr Lister said: "There are certainly no guarantees but Thames Water has clearly been surprised by the scale and ferocity of local opposition to this project and we are hopeful their revised scheme will address the major issues raised.
"However we are taking nothing for granted and will keep up the pressure in the weeks ahead. For example we are setting up a meeting between environment ministers and all the local council leaders affected by this project. This will be another important opportunity to make our case.
"Just as with the successful third runway campaign we will achieve so much more if we join together and present our arguments in a way that properly reflects the concerns of all the different groups involved."
The Thames Tunnel 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.
The proposed sewer is designed to reduce the amount of sewage flowing into the Thames following heavy rain fall. The council supports the project's aim but is concerned that the improvement in water quality will be outweighed by the scheme's financial and environmental costs.
In particular, councillors are opposed to Barn Elms Playing Fields being used as a main shaft site which would have severe impacts on this unique riverside environment. Thousands of local residents share these concerns and have been campaigning against the plan.
Thames Water's first round of public consultations on the scheme and its preferred worksite locations ended on 14 January 2011. A revised plan is due to be released later this year followed by a second round public consultation.
A full planning application is expected in 2012 with the seven year construction programme starting in 2013.
For an overview of the project and a full account of the council's concerns visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/thamestunnel.