The collective voice of 16,500 people has been listened to
Barn Elms, an important sporting hub and one of London’s most beautiful and
natural areas, is no longer Thames Water’s preferred West London location
from which to construct the Thames Tunnel. Carnwath Road, a derelict
brownfield site in Sands End, is now deemed to be more appropriate.
This news has delighted Stop the Shaft, a local campaign group, who has
always believed Barn Elms to be a wholly inappropriate place for such a
construction project. This view was shared by thousands and resulted in Barn
Elms receiving more objections to Thames Water’s Phase 1 consultation
proposals than any other site.
Campaign Chairman, Sian Baxter, says:
"I am extremely pleased that Thames
Water has made the right decision for the thousands of people from all over
London who enjoy and value this area immensely. The proposal to protect
one natural habitat, at the expense of another, was always nonsensical. It is
so important to conserve our beautiful, green spaces - our city would be a
soulless and unhappy place without them".
Tracy Edwards MBE esteemed round the world sailor who has supported
Stop the Shaft comments “This is wonderful news. This decision will ensure
the river based sports which are so popular along this stretch of the Thames,
and an integral part of Putney’s heritage, will remain.”
Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia has welcomed the water company's change of heart but says the campaign must continue until the scheme's planning process is complete:
"The decision comes as a huge relief but we are not celebrating yet. There is still a long way to go before these playing fields are completely safe and we will now focus our efforts on ensuring Thames Water sticks to the alternative site.
"But I cannot let this moment pass without commending the extraordinary work of Sian Baxter and her many colleagues at Stop the Shaft. Their efforts have been instrumental in turning this situation around and they deserver the very highest recognition for all they have achieved."
Stop the Shaft warn that this does not mean that Barn Elms is now completely
safe as Thames Water could still reverse this decision after Phase 2 of its
consultation “it’s vitally important that people respond to this consultation with
their feedback to ensure this decision is not overturned. We will be submitting
a formal response and posting it on our website shortly for everyone to see”.
Thames Water has confirmed, however, that they still propose to intercept the
Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) at Barn Elms. These works are expected
to take about two to three years to complete and cost between £25-50m. Another six worksites are proposed across Wandsworth including a main drive shaft in east Battersea.
Baxter explains that this decision needs further scrutiny:
“This CSO is one of a
number of minimally polluting CSOs along the Thames that the Environment
Agency deems necessary to connect to the Thames Tunnel. The
Environment Agency’s methodology for determining which CSOs need
connecting is fundamentally flawed and the cost benefit case for this
connection has not been made and needs to be”.
Cllr Govindia said:
"This enormous project will have far reaching impacts on our riverside communities. A detailed analysis of the Wandsworth based sites - and those which neighbour our borough - is now underway and we will be sharing our finding with local people in the days and weeks ahead."
Richard Tracey, Wandsworth’s London Assembly member said:
“This is a huge victory for Barn Elms and for all those who opposed this colossal and highly-disruptive scheme. I am extremely relieved that Thames Water has seen sense on this matter.”
The company also announced that it plans to move 90% of the spoil generated by the building of the super sewer by river barge.
Mr Tracey added:
“And it is further to their credit and to the Mayor, who I have lobbied on the matter of spoil removal, that Thames has listened to our concern about moving building spoil by road and instead agreed to remove the vast majority of spoil from the sewer’s construction by river.”
The recommendations from
Lord Selbourne’s Commission announced on 28th October support this
November 9, 2011