Local Action Group To Submit 13 Page Objection to Thames Tunnel Proposals

StopTheShaft Putney & Barnes are acting on behalf of almost 5000 people

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Consultation period ends 5pm 14th January 2011

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STOPtheSHAFT Putney & Barnes will be officially handing over their final submission document to the 1st stage consultation, for the proposed Thames Tunnel at the final public meeting on Thursday the 13th of January 2011.  The meeting will be held 8pm at the Holy Trinity Church in Barnes and has been organised by local MP’s for the affected areas, Justine Greening and Zac Goldsmith.

STOPtheSHAFT, began as a small group of local residents in early November 2010. They were concerned about the proposals by Thames Water to site a Main Shaft at Barn Elms for the western section of the tunnel construction. Since then, they have grown in number and strength and have been working tirelessly to oppose the unnecessary use of Greenfield sites. The group have received backing from Wandsworth local councillors, and Conservative MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields, Justine Greening.

The group say more than 4700 people have signed a petition since 9th November, and the numbers are growing daily.  STOPtheSHAFT also advised that there are additional local groups petitioning to object.   They have organised two protest marches where locals turned out in force to object to the loss of rapidly diminishing green space in the capital, loss of sports facilities and the ecological impact that this project will have, and have received increasing press and media attention - the latest protest covered by BBC London.

STOPtheSHAFT’s 13 page submission outlines repeated failures by Thames Water with regard to a number of matters including:

§         Poor communication and lack of engagement with local residents. Some affected live only metres from the proposed site and were totally unaware of the plan and the consultation process. 

§         Lack of transparency.  Thames Water provided only limited information to consultees on the long list and short list sites and no alternative Brownfield sites were given as options. Thames Water has still not made it totally clear what impact this project would have to local residents.

§         A continual disparity of information provided by Thames Water during the consultation, dependent on the time, place and Thames Water representative.  

§         Lack of a basic environmental impact assessment for the project.  This is important since the site is a “bat corridor” adjacent to the Beverley Brook nature walk, the WWT wetlands centre and close to Putney Common.

§         No consideration to the overall economic impact to the local businesses this project will have, including but not limited to those businesses that have grown up around the river based activities (including rowing and sailing) or the river boat services.
§         Lack of appreciation of how well used the playing fields are (over 10 schools use the playing fields regularly) or how valued this ‘piece of the country’ is to the many thousands of people across London who enjoy it.
§         Little consideration as to how the project will impact already highly congested local roads.

STOPtheSHAFT are also concerned that the overall project, being a mixed sewer system, will still not prevent raw sewage entering the Thames.  It also does not deal with all of the CSO’s along the Thames and will not address one of the major causes of raw sewage in the western section of the tidal Thames - the overflow of Mogden Sewage works.

The group also complain that there has been little by way of explanation and costings for alternative schemes and solutions, as part of the consultation.  Considering the spiralling cost of the tunnel, STOPtheSHAFT believes sustainable programmes should be revisited, in order to evaluate if they can provide a greener, solution with increased benefit to the community within the overall expected budget.

A STOPtheSHAFT representative said “looking at the 2006 data we have received from Thames Water, it seems that almost 70% of discharges into the Thames are from CSO’s in the East of the capital and 98% of the total discharges are from eighteen worst CSO’s, none of which are located in Putney .” She added; “In fact the West Putney Storm relief CSO (located at Barn Elms) contributes less than 0.1% of the overall problem of sewage in the river, and combined with Putney Bridge figures the total contribution does not even reach 0.3% of the overall problem; it seems a disproportionate amount of disruption for local residents when you consider the whole scale and cost of the proposed solution.”

STOPtheSHAFT will publish their official response on their Facebook site within this week. They also welcomed the official response of Wandsworth Borough Council, who have recently submitted clear objection to the use of Barn Elms and the Putney Foreshore. The council’s report also questions the proposals by DEFRA’s National Policy Statement on Waste Water, in that local councils will not be involved in planning decisions for what are effectively a series of local above ground major constructions for the borough.

January 14, 2011