Green loss for Shadwell as Thames Tideway ‘super sewer’ gets green light

Protesters in 2011 erect mock tower on Shadwell waterfront to show how big sewer venrtillation shaft

Protesters in 2011 erect mock tower on Shadwell waterfront to show how big sewer venrtillation shaft would be [photo: Mark Baynes] - Credit: KEMP campaign promo

The controversial Thames Tideway Tunnel has been given the green light by Whitehall after a three-year battle to save a memorial park in London’s deprived East End which is to have the construction depot dumped on it.

Shadwell's Thames waterfront and (inset) campaigner Carl Dunsire

Shadwell's Thames waterfront and (inset) campaigner Carl Dunsire - Credit: KEMP campaign promo

The decision by both the Environment and the Communities Secretaries of State for the 17-mile long tunnel along the riverbed, announced this-afternoon, follows a recommendation by the Planning Inspectorate after a mammoth six-month planning inquiry.

The tunnel will relieve London’s overburdened Victorian sewage and drainage network beneath the streets which regularly overflows into the Thames.

It will run from Barnes in the west, following the river bends to Limehouse, connecting with the new Lee sewer tunnel under Poplar to Abbey Mills pumping station at Stratford, then feeding into the Northern Outfall sewer down to Beckton sewage treatment works.

The public examination process looking into the project—which has caused protests along the riverfront—has met all statutory timescales for consultation.

But it is a disappointment for campaigners trying to save Shadwell’s King Edward Memorial Park being turned into a constriction site for four years while the Tideway Tunnel gets under way—with the legacy of two giant ventilation towers left permanently on the waterfront.

“We are deeply disappointed,” campaign chairman Carl Dunsire told the East London Advertiser tonight. “We went to all the effort of finding an alternative to using the park that works for both the community and Thames Water—but that’s been cast aside.”

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The campaigners had suggested using the redundant Hickford’s factory site in The Highway as a construction depot instead, keeping the park opposite free.

But their three-year battle has at least secured a height reduction for the two ventilation towers from 45ft to 15ft and a ban on working Saturday and Sunday.

“At least we get our park back at weekends,” Carl added. “We’ve also got a restriction on noise and machinery and no barges operating at night—it’s a small victory.”

The 50,000-page planning application is the largest nationally-significant infrastructure project to be examined by the Planning Inspectorate, submitted in February last year.

Community groups gave evidence during statutory public consultations involving 1,200 representations.

The inspectorate put forward more than 400 written questions, with its final recommendation in June.

Its chief executive Simon Ridley said: “The application (by Thames Water) needed five examining inspectors who took full account of the views from communities in several London boroughs affected by this proposal, alongside the evidence of the need for the project.”

The recommendation to the Secretary of State and the evidence is publicly available on the National Infrastructure projects website.


Planning Inspectorate opens hearing to decide how Thames Tidal Tunnel inquiry will run September, 2013

Inspectors to look at alternative site for Thames Tideway tunnel construction July, 2013