Boris warns Thames Water on Barn Elms

Release date: Wednesday 16th March 11

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Mayor Boris Johnson has condemned Thames Water’s plan to use Barn Elms Playing Fields as an excavation site for the new Thames Tunnel ‘super sewer’.

Speaking at People's Question Time last night (March 15) Mr Johnson said the water company had been "trying it on" and branded the proposal "outrageous".

He went on to welcome the recent announcement that an alternative brownfield location is now being looked at for the giant tunnelling site.

He said: "I very much hope that what [Thames Water] has undertaken, to move the excavation away from Barn Elms, will be carried through. We will be watching this with lynx-like attention."

Like Wandsworth Council, the Mayor has confirmed his support for the sewer project's aim - improving water quality in the Thames - but is concerned that the locations earmarked for major construction work are unsuitable.

Council leader Edward Lister has welcomed the Mayor's support:

"There is now huge political and public pressure bearing down on Thames Water. Wandsworth and Richmond Councils oppose their plans for Barn Elms, as do the area's MPs Justine Greening and Zac Goldsmith - not to mention thousands upon thousands of local residents.

"Now that the Mayor and his colleagues on the London Assembly have spoken out there can be no doubt that Barn Elms is off limits and they must go elsewhere.

"Everyone supports this project's ultimate objective, but in choosing Barn Elms as one of the main excavation sites Thames Water made a serious error of judgement. These necessary but highly disruptive works, which will last for at least seven years, must be located on brownfield sites and not London's greenfield recreation areas. This should have been the basis of their site selection policy from the very beginning."

Following an intensive campaign to save Barn Elms Thames Water announced last week that it is now considering a stretch of land in south Fulham as an alternative. Unlike Barn Elms this location is a non-recreational brownfield site.

Councillor Lister continues: "It appears Thames Water has begun to back away from Barn Elms but the battle is far from over. Every opportunity must be exploited to its fullest if we are to ensure this unspoilt stretch of the riverside is protected.

"My message to those who oppose the use of Barn Elms as a location of the main excavation shaft is that Wandsworth is with you, we look forward to maintaining our alliance to ensure that there is no back tracking by Thames Water."

A public consultation on the revised Thames Tunnel plans will take place in September 2011. A final decision on the site locations and tunnelling strategy is expected in 2012.

For more information contact the Wandsworth Council press team at press@wandsworth.gov.uk.

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