Brownfield sites preferred for Thames tunnel dig

Revised plans for London's 'super-sewer' will take the pressure off green spaces in the capital previously earmarked for tunnel construction sites, Thames Water has claimed.

The River Thames
The River Thames
The water company has launched a 14-week second consultation round on the Thames Tunnel project, which is intended to divert the 39 million tones of raw sewage currently discharged into the Thames each year to Beckton Sewage Works in east London via a bored tunnel 7.2 metres in diameter.

Thames Water now plans to use brownfield land in Fulham as one of the main tunnel drive sites for the project. This will replace its previous preferred site in west London, comprising greenfield land at Barn Elms Playing Fields on the border of Richmond-upon-Thames and Wandsworth.

East of Tower Bridge, a riverside brownfield development site at Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey will replace King’s Stairs Gardens in Rotherhithe as a tunnel drive site.

In Battersea, a drive site will be located in a partly vacant commercial area at Kirtling Street. This will replace a previously preferred site at nearby Tideway Walk, where permission for a mixed development was granted in March and construction is now under way.

In addition, 17 other smaller construction sites are proposed to intercept or control flows from sewer outfalls into the main tunnel.

"We have been working hard to refine our original plans, where possible, in the light of the concerns people have raised with us," said Phil Stride, head of Thames Water’s London Tideway Tunnels division.

"This has resulted in some significant changes, also reflecting our absolute determination to balance overall disruption with the equally important need to ensure that the price tag remains affordable for our customers."

In a Parliamentary statement yesterday, environment minister Richard Beynon reaffirmed government support for the project. He told the Commons that he expects the finalised national policy statement on waste water treatment to be laid before Parliament for ratification before the end of this year.

The approved statement would provide the background for consideration of a development consent order application due to be submitted to the Infrastructure Planning Commission or its successor next autumn.

Work on the tunnel is now provisionally scheduled to begin in 2016 and is expected to last six years. The company’s latest cost figure is £4.1 billion, up from its previous estimate of £3.6 billion last year.

The consultation runs until 10 February 2012.

The consultation documents can be found here.

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