Hundreds March To Save Barn Elms

Residents & Councillors marched from Putney to Barnes in demonstration

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Last Saturday campaigners turned out in force to protest against Thames Water’s plan to base a vast tunnelling site on Barn Elms Playing Fields.

Around 200 local residents and councillors marched along the towpath from Putney to Barnes to raise awareness of the Thames Tunnel scheme and its severe impacts on this unspoilt stretch of the riverside.

Flanked by BBC news cameras, the protesters held aloft placards calling on Thames Water to use brown field sites to build the proposed sewer tunnel and to keep their hands off green spaces like Barn Elms.  

Council leader Edward Lister said:
"Thames Water will be in no doubt that they have a fight on their hands here. Barn Elms is a very special place and local people will not stand by and watch while they transform it into a giant construction site.  All of us want to keep sewage out of the river, but destroying one of the few remaining stretches of unspoilt riverbank should not be part of the solution. There are other places from where they can dig this tunnel.

He continued:
"If you haven't already done so please let Thames Water know what you think about their plans before the public consultation ends on January 14."

For details of teh proposals by Thames Water go to
Thames Water Thames Tunnel. For a full account of the council's concerns visit

Because the scheme is being treated as a national infrastructure project Thames Water would not need local authority planning consent to create its worksite and can take control of Barn Elms using compulsory purchase powers.

Wandsworth Council believes this is wrong and that planning decisions for local sites should not be taken without substantial involvement on the part of the local authority, which will be much more sensitive to local impacts.

According to the water company's project timetable a second round consultation will take place in 2011 and a full planning application will be submitted in 2012. The seven year construction programme would commence in 2013 and complete in 2020.

Cllrs Jim Madden & Rosemary Torrington with organisers and marchers on Saturday

January 11, 2011