Over 16,000 Signed 'Save Barn Elms' Petition

The petition is to be presented to Phil Stride, Head of London Tideway Tunnels

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Stop the Shaft are calling on Thames Water to listen to public opinion and choose a brownfield location for the construction of the London ‘Super Sewer’. Over 16,000 people have signed a petition protesting against Barn Elms playing fields and the surrounding area being used as a construction site.

Why not Barn Elms?

• Barn Elms playing fields, the sports centre and boat house is sporting hub for West London used by over 30 schools and 40 sports clubs
• An alternative brownfield site exists in Fulham but Barn Elms playing fields is still being considered by Thames Water as a site for the West London Drive Shaft
• Plans to build a large jetty for industrial barge use at Barn Elms present safety concerns for rowers and sailors

The Thames Tunnel project would take seven years to complete with at much of the work taking place 24 hours a day. This would mean little respite for residents overlooking the site and would have an enormous impact on people’s enjoyment of the remaining sports fields and the thousands who visit the riverside walk every week to enjoy the peace and escape of the countryside.

The use of industrial barges to remove spoil from the site has also raised questions regarding the safety of sailors and rowers, the stretch of the river from Putney – Barnes is the busiest area for recreational use of the river and there is uncertainty over safety measures proposed for managing industrial river traffic at this site.

Sian Baxter, Chairman of Stop the Shaft said:
“The social cost of losing Barn Elms must be factored into Thames Water’s decision. An alternative brownfield site has been identified, a site that has been derelict for over a decade and serves no public purpose. This must be deemed more suitable than ruining public playing fields and wrecking one of London’s most beautiful natural areas.”

Barn Elms is designated as Metropolitan Open Land which means, in theory, the Mayor has a duty to protect it from inappropriate development. Johnson has pledged to watch Thames Water’s plans with ‘lynx like attention’ but has so far not taken any action to ensure that brownfield sites are used in preference to greenfield for the London ‘Super Sewer’.

The Barn Elms site sits next to wildlife sanctuary The London Wetland Centre and forms part of an important green corridor for animals and birds to move between their feeding and nesting sites. The noise and floodlighting of the main drive shaft construction site could have a hugely detrimental effect on wildlife sensitive to noise and light at Barn Elms including several rare bat species protected under EU law.

Analysis of petition signatures collected on the tow path reveals that people from all over London and beyond use this much loved path, not just the local Putney and Barnes residents. Importantly 18% of our petition signatures were from people living in Hammersmith and Fulham the borough that is home to the alternative brownfield site.

Stop the Shaft has been campaigning since November 2010 to raise awareness of the proposals for Barn Elms and to persuade Thames Water to use a brownfield alternative.

Stop The Shaft has the backing of high profile supporters including MPs Justine Greening and Zac Goldsmith, Philip Glenister, Alistair McGowan, Lawrence Dallaglio, Anneke Rice, Peter Snow, Gyles Brandreth, Patricia Hodge, Daisy Waugh, Ben Hunt-Davis and Chris Baillieu MBE.

Barn Elms was originally the only site being considered in West London . After representations from Stop the Shaft it was realised that the bi-directional drilling could take place at Nine Elms (also in Wandsworth Borough) thereby reducing the amount of land needed for the West London drive shaft allowing Thames Water to consider the brownfield site, Carnwath Road as an alternative location.

Stop the Shaft were successful in persuading Thames Water to monitor the pollution being discharged from the West Putney CSO which has been found to be minimally polluting. We are now investigating whether the overflow here could be dealt with in a less environmentally disruptive way to connecting it to the ‘Super Sewer’ at a cost of tens of millions to rate payers.

On 6th July 2011 we launched the Save Barn Elms Alliance with fellow members Wandsworth and Richmond Councils, Local MPs Zac Goldsmith and Justine Greening, GLA Members Richard Tracey and Tony Arbour. Since then the Putney Society and The Barnes Community Association have also joined the alliance. The group has pledged to Save Barn Elms from seven years of construction misery.

August 17, 2011