Thousands Use Barn Elms Every Weekend

Proposed Thames Tunnel Shaft site a regular space for sports & recreation

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Consultation period ends 5pm 14th January 2011

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New research from Wandsworth Council reveals that Barn Elms receives up to 10,000 visits during summer weekends- the majority from Putney & Barnes. On the basis of Defra’s National Ecosystem Assesment this proposed ‘Super Sewer’ construction site has a monetary value of tens of millions in health benefits derived from access to green space.

Sian Baxter, Chairperson of Stop the Shaft, a local campaign group set up to protest Thames Waters plans for Barn Elms said:
“Barn Elms is invaluable to our community. It’s imperative that Thames Water pay attention and understand the full impact their proposals for this site would have. Thousands visit Barn Elms every week to play sports and enjoy this area of outstanding natural beauty, to ruin this precious green space would be a travesty.”

Thames Water’s proposals for Barn Elms would mean severe disruption to the playing fields and boat club used by 31 schools across London, 3 Universities and 40 sports clubs and the riverside towpath used by thousands of visitors each week. There is also a potential hazard caused to recreational users of the river as if the Barn Elms site were chosen a large jetty would be built to accommodate industrial barges removing spoil from the construction site.

The environmental impact and threat to wildlife is of equal concern. Barn Elms sits next door to The London Wetland Centre and forms part of an important green corridor that stretches through Barns Common; Wimbledon Common; Richmond Park and beyond. This provides a safe route for migratory birds and allows the resident bats, birds and other wildlife to move between their breeding, roosting and feeding grounds.

Sian Baxter commented:
“Our national government has recognised this week the importance of protecting our green spaces. This is all the more important in a vast urban metropolis such as London where access to green playing fields and natural countryside is restricted. The importance of areas such as Barn Elms to our health and wellbeing is clear and this must be protected for future generations.”

At the end of March this year Thames Water published the results of a public consultation on the ‘Super Sewer’ plans. This confirmed that Barn Elms was the most unpopular of the 23 worksite locations. The second most unpopular was King’s Stairs Gardens, another greenfield site.

Stop the Shaft have taken a sample study of petition signature sheets and broken them down by postcode demonstrating that the riverside walk from Putney to Barnes along the towpath is visited by people from all over London and beyond - see pie chart. It is one of London’s great beauty spots, famous for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race (raced from Putney to Barnes since 1845) and deserving of protection.

Thames Water have confirmed an alternative brownfield site is available, Carnwath Road in South Fulham but has not ruled out using Barn Elms.


June 14, 2011