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LIBERAL Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes has joined the fight to stop sewer tunnels being built at a well-loved Rotherhithe beauty spot.

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Simon Hughes, MP for Bermondsey and Southwark, told a packed residents meeting he would be very angry at Thames Water if it put in an application to use King’s Stairs Gardens for their Thames Tideway Tunnel (super sewer) project. The meeting also heard from London Assembly member Val Shawcross using the green space would have an “enormous and damaging impact” on the lives of local people and their precious parks and playgrounds.

Thames Water wants to construct sewer tunnels at King’s Stairs Gardens and Alfred Salter playground as part of its 20-mile long super sewer.

Simon Hughes said: “I’d be very angry with Thames Water if they put in a formal application to use King’s Stairs Gardens as a construction site before there’s a democratic structure in place.”

Hughes told the meeting that because the super sewer was in his view a national infrastructure project, Thames Water would need to seek approval from the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) which is not currently accountable to parliament or local councils.

He added: “The coalition government plans to introduce into parliament in the next few months a bill which would make the IPC’s decisions subject to ministerial approval. That will put national planning decisions under democratic control, and Thames Water must not try to push through approval before that happens.”

Roger Bilder of Mayflower Street told The Docklands: “We know there are a number of brownfield sites which could work instead of our precious green spaces and we urge Thames Water to consider other locations which are far more suitable.”

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