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Thames river ‘super sewer’ plans cause wave of protest in East London

PUBLISHED: 10:02 03 February 2011 | UPDATED: 10:39 03 February 2011

Sewer overflow whenever there's heavy rain seeps into Thames... which would be avoided by proposed new tunnel

Sewer overflow whenever there's heavy rain seeps into Thames... which would be avoided by proposed new tunnel

Thames Water

A WAVE of protest is sweeping over London’s planned River Thames ‘super sewer’ route with angry campaigners lobbying a Town Hall meeting last night.

Families in East London living along the foreshore from Wapping to Limehouse sent a delegation calling on the Mayor of Tower Hamlets to back the protest to stop Thames Water’s proposed sewer tunnel under the riverbed turning a public park into a seven-year construction site.

The campaigners, with their 2,200-name petition, got support from the Mayor and Tower Hamlets council which voted to demand Thames Water finds another route away from high-density areas of the East End.

The families are furious that a sewer ventilation tower would stick up from the riverbed 45 feet above the water level—slap bang in front of Shadwell’s King Edward Memorial Park.

“The park is one of the few open spaces in the East End—which is already blighted by overdevelopment,” delegation leader Emma Dunsire told councillors.

“The sewer would destroy the park for seven years and cause irreparable harm by turning a pleasant green area where children play and where people come to relax into a site for sewerage works.

“It’s the only riverside park for miles and is the focal point for thousands of people.

“Most families don’t have their own gardens and rely on the park. Damaging it for any period would cause irreparable damage to the communities of Shadwell, Wapping, Limehouse and Stepney.”

Emma, a journalist and wife of a civil engineer, added: “A new sewer system is needed—but Thames Water is penalising one of the poorest boroughs of London.”

She was cheered by campaigners packing the public gallery and by councillors themselves who called for Thames Water to find another route away from Shadwell for the 17-mile sewer tunnel running from Chiswick to East London’s Abbey Mills pumping station at Stratford.

The authority voted unanimously to call on Thames Water to consider “the many public objections” and switch the route to Rotherhithe on the south side instead.

Council members were later planning to join campaigners at next Monday’s Waterways Commission meeting at City Hall which advises the Mayor of London.

They are hoping to get Boris Johnson’s backing to save King Edward Memorial Park, first opened in 1922 by King George V as a ‘green lung’ for the East End’s dockworkers.

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