The jury's still out on the Thames Tideway Tunnel

I am writing in connection with Ben Kochan's article of 27 November 2015 (see related articles) about the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

As with most articles on this topic, the failure to state the total cost of £22.7 billion (most quote the construction cost, currently £4.54 billion) does not serve readers well.

A recent paper by Professor Chris Binnie illustrated why the planning decision in support of the tunnel was defective. It is important that decision-makers learn from their mistakes, recognise the insufficiencies of current legislation and why this particular project is now overdue for proper and independent scrutiny that should lead to a reversal of the government's decision to issue orders to proceed.

This suggestion may make those responsible for recommending acceptance of Thames Water's application feel that they were duped. But the constraints on those decision-makers to not consider any other options to the TTT has led to a miscarriage of justice and illustrates the flaws of the legislation that designates projects as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and thus circumvents traditional planning legislation.

It may interest readers to know that there is currently a case before the courts that may well lead to cancellation of the project. In view of that case, which after more than a year still has no hearing date, Ofwat and the government may be considered to be in contempt of court by proceeding to issue a licence to the Bazalgette consortium before the court has ruled. The case may progress to the Supreme Court and, eventually, the European Court of Justice, where expert lawyers are confident of success against the government should the UK courts not agree with the claimant.

Roland Gilmore, director, Thames Blue Green Economy

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