Feedback Form The Putney Public Meeting On The proposed Thames Tunnel

Attended by representatives from Thames Water the Council & MP's office

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The meeting organised by MP for Putney Justine Greening was well attended last night - sadly Ms greening could not attend due to a family emergency and so Cllr Maddan chaired the meeting.

The meeting lasted over two hours and was at times heated as emotions run high for residents concerned over the choice of location the impact on the environment and their property desirability both short & long term.

Cllr Madden broke the main concerns into 6 areas:

  1. Environment - eg noise, light, odours
  2. Access issues -
  3. River users - rowers sailors kayaks etc
  4. Transportation of spoils & materials
  5. Affects on towpath & Wetland Centre
  6. Legacy planning.

Richard Aylard of Thames Water said that the consultation was on:

  1. The need for the tunnel
  2. The route of the tunnel
  3. Issues relating to the 22 sites necessary for its construction.

The focus of attention was on the impact of the proposed main drive shaft site at Barn Elms Playing Fields, together with the CSO currently located at Beverley Brook and the CSO site at Putney Bridge
The questioning ranged through the EU Directives which had brought the subject to a head, the timescales imposed by DEFRA and whether these could be changed, tunnelling methodology, the alternatives to Barn Elms as a main drive shaft site, the effect of the proposals on the residents of Horne Way and Stockhurst Close, the value of property in the area and planning issues, the impact of the project on river users and the international rowing events, the removal of spoil by road, to the protection of the wildlife and birds and the local scout hut.
The phraseology of the consultation document was called into question, as was the difficulty of using the website, but the meeting was asked to make sure that the consultation document, despite its shortcomings, was completed as this was the only way that Thames Water could be made aware of the sense of feeling.
Wandsworth Council's position was affirmed and the decision of the council to oppose the plans as they stood, to work with neighbouring boroughs, the government and any other interested parties to achieve cleaner water, was made clear.
The meeting closed at 10.15pm with many people still dissatisfied with the answers that they had heard.  Several people stayed for a further thirty minutes to discuss issues with Thames Water on a one-to-one basis.

A spokesperson for "Stop The Shaft" told us:
"The c
rowd was very hostile and sceptical indeed and passions ran high throughout the meeting. Many people struggled to ask their questions and the main focus was Barn Elms, which was a shame as alot of people wanted to also talk about Putney Foreshore - particularly concerned residents of Kennilworth Court. Star of the night was a young boy who was given the chance to speak and stood up and read out "I don't want to lose my scount hut"
Again the alternative to Barn Elms was raised and the possibility of drilling from a central point both ways (east and West) from Tideway Wharf meaning that there would be no need to have a main shaft at Barn Elms. Of particular concern to STS was a question put to councillor Madden when asked since it seems from the meeting there are preferred alternatives, that are possible & confirmed by John Ramage, the Cllr was asked "will you work with TW to identify these sites and deliver the project appropriately". His response was along the lines of - "It is not the job of WBC to identify sites for Thames Water" and went through the motion. He was also challenged by one angry resident over allegations that WBC planning department suggested the Barn Elms site as a suitable site for TW.
Thames water were questioned on a number of the issues already raised including envinromental impact, and how they reached their decisions. Independence was questioned and also the Site selction methodology which a number of people commented did not take into account the economic impact to the areas proposed, and cost benefit anaylsys and was inconsistent in it's approach. One resident of Kennilworth court questioned TW "putting buildings before people" in the case of putney Foreshore.
One very positive outcome was Justine Greening's suggestion of a working group between STS members, residents assiciations, WBC, TW and herself. STS were very happy to hear this.
There was a general lack of trust for TW. Actually, I believe they may be looking at alternatives however, it's clear they are limited by project timelines, pressure from DEFRA and the issue with their site proposals being rapidly lost to developers as councils rush to sell of the alternatives and grant planning permission to avoid their use."

The issues will continue for sometime to com

December 10, 2010