Council leader says use of site for tunnel construction a serious mistake
Rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio and actress Patricia Hodge were among hundreds of rain drenched Londoners to take part in a demonstration against plans to base a construction site for the Thames Tunnel on Barn Elms playing fields.
Barn Elms is one of south London's most popular sports venues attracting around 10,000 visits at summer weekends.
The site has been earmarked by Thames Water as the 'preferred' location for a seven year excavation and waste transfer compound to help build the Thames Tunnel which aims to end the dumping of sewage into the river at times of heavy rainfall. One such incident recently led to significant losses of fish stock in the Thames.
The campaign is now being spearheaded by a coalition of residents, councils, MPs and GLA members called the Save Barn Elms Alliance.
The group, which orchestrated Saturday’s rally, hope that this latest show of strength will help convince Thames Water to rule out Barn Elms as a main drive shaft site.
The water company has identified an alternative location for the tunnelling work. Unlike greenfield Barn Elms this is a semi-derelict industrial site with no trees, no grassland, no sports pitches, no riverside towpath and no wildlife habitats to disturb.
A final decision on which of these sites will be used has not yet been made and the Save Barn Elms Alliance has pledged to continue its campaign until the playing fields are declared safe.
Other famous names backing the campaign include Daisy Waugh, Philip Glenister, Peter Snow, Anneka Rice, Gyles Brandreth and Alistair McGowan.
Leader of Wandsworth Council and Alliance spokesman Ravi Govindia said Saturday’s demonstration has sent a clear message:
“Thames Water can now be in no doubt whatsoever that selecting greenfield land for a mammoth tunnelling site was a serious mistake. Today’s rally, coupled with a 13,000 strong petition, makes the prospect of a main drive shaft at Barn Elms simply untenable.
“Anyone who has ever visited these playing fields or set foot on the magnificent riverside towpath will understand why the reaction to these plans has been so ferocious. This is a very special pocket of London, and Londoners will do whatever it takes to protect it.”
The Save Barn Elms Alliance includes residents' pressure group Stop the Shaft, Wandsworth and Richmond Councils, local MPs Justine Greening and Zac Goldsmith and GLA members Richard Tracey and Tony Arbour.
The Alliance is not opposed to the ‘super sewer’ project as a whole, only the use of an unspoilt beauty spot as the main tunnelling site.
Find out more and sign the petition at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/savebarnelms
July 5, 2011