Consultation Boost for Barn Elms Campaign

5,698 objections were made to the use of playing fields as a main tunnelling site

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The results of a public consultation on Thames Water’s super sewer plans reveal 5,698 objections were made to the use of Barn Elms Playing Fields as a main tunnelling site.

The figure, which includes 798 consultation responses and a 5,013 signature petition, was the highest among the scheme’s 23 proposed worksite locations.

The second highest was King’s Stairs Gardens, another greenfield site, which clocked up 5,591 objections.

The £3.6bn super sewer scheme is being developed by Thames Water as a means of reducing pollution in the Thames.

The plan to use Barn Elms Playing Fields, an unspoilt stretch of the riverbank, as one of the main tunnelling sites has sparked a major backlash from local residents group STOPtheSHAFT (STS) and Wandsworth Council.

In response to an intensive campaigning the water company has recently announced that the tunnelling operation proposed for the playing fields could be relocated to a semi-derelict brownfield site across the river in Fulham.

Councillors and residents have welcomed the emergence of an alternative site and are calling for Barn Elms to be ruled out altogether as a main excavation site.

Leader of Wandsworth Council Edward Lister said:

“Londoners have sent a clear message that construction work on greenfield sites is unacceptable. Thank you to everyone who responded to the consultation and especially the campaigners in Putney and Barnes who have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of these plans.

“Everyone wants to reduce the amount of sewage flowing in to the river but threatening the capital’s green spaces was a serious mistake. If they are to recover the goodwill they have lost Thames Water need to rule out the use of Barn Elms as a main drive shaft and relocate these works to a brownfield site where the impacts will be far less severe.”

STS spokesperson Sian Baxter said:
“We are pleased that Thames Water has started to listen to the voice of thousands of people – including rowers, sailors, residents, businesses, runners, walkers, cyclists, nature lovers – who are all in favour of a cleaner river but believe the clean up should not come at the expense of greenfield space, the local ecology and important recreational amenities. 

“Brownfield sites are more appropriate for the main construction sites for the tunnel and we welcome the fact that Thames Water is now considering the Carnwath Road site.”

The results of the first round consultation on the Thames Tunnel super sewer scheme were published yesterday (Thursday) on the water company’s website.

The report reveals less than half the people who responded to the consultation believe that the tunnel is the right way to clean up the river.

Only around a third of respondents agreed that Thames Water’s preferred tunnel route was the correct choice. 

Councillor Lister continues: “These results show just how many people remain unconvinced by this scheme. We will continue to scrutinise every new development to ensure the interests of our residents are put first.”

Thames Water plans to release details of a revised scheme in autumn this year which will then be subject to a second round of public consultations. A final decision on the site locations and tunnelling strategy is expected in 2012.

For an overview of the original proposals and an account of the council's concerns visit

For more information on STS visit


April 7, 2011