Monday, 17 May 2010

Super Sewer: Planning applications on the way

I've been hearing some rumours from well placed sources that, now the General Election is out of the way,  Thames Water are going to be submitting planning applications for the Thames Tideway Tunnel very shortly. Given that the Mayor of London and the new Conservative-LibDem Government are entirely in favour of the project, these applications are likely to be approved. Quickly.

You may think this is a good thing since it will put a stop to huge amounts of poo being disgorged into our river as happens regularly with our ageing Victorian sewers which, in Hammersmith's case, handle most of the waste matter from large areas of North London. Modern sewers seperate rainwater from sewage - but our ancient system carries both, and after heavy rain they inevitably flood - either into our river, or into people's homes in Hammersmith or both. This was explained very well to local people at a meeting in Hammersmith Town Hall by Thames Water, read the report here.

So it's do or die time now for our Council, who have opposed this development using the full might of their taxpayer funded propaganda machine. They warned first that Furnival Gardens would be destroyed - and I believed them so called on you to support their campaign. Then Thames Water and others got in touch to point out that the Council knew this wasn't the case and had been told so many times. The Council even recruited local cheerleader Raj Bhattia, the longstanding chairman of a residents association, to warn that local people would be made homeless by the project, but were then forced to disown the claim since it, too, was dismissed by the Mayor as bogus.

Some of you may remember our Council's first reaction to the proposed Thames Tunnel, which was to claim that Ravenscourt Park was in imminent danger. This, a source at Thames Water tells me, was publicly ruled out by them " order to draw attention to the Council's campaign of misinformation."

So in other words a major national utility company was forced into making a public planning announcement in order to counter what it regarded as a deliberate campaign of misinformation from a publicly elected Council. I think that is extraordinary.

And during the General Election campaign I helped Melanie Abbott, correspondent for the You & Yours programme on Radio4 cover the story which you can listen to here. (29:55 minutes in - all candidates standing to be our MP were interviewed) This followed Thames Water contacting me to rebut Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey point by point in his interview with this blog on the subject of the sewer during the election campaign.

So you can expect a lot of local sound and fury about this in the weeks to come. Fasten your seatbelts.

1215 UPDATE: A reader has written in to point out that the Mayor Boris Johnson actually met H&F Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh on this issue recently. This excerpt is from the Mayor's latest activity report to the GLA:

Meeting with Leader of London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham

On 26 March I met with Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, the Leader of the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. We discussed the White City and Earls Court Opportunity Areas, High Speed 2, LDF progress and the Thames Tideway.

The report does not indicate what they agreed, if anything, and what next steps might be taken. Put bluntly the Mayor supports the sewer, Cllr Greenhalgh doesn't - so one of them has got to give way.


  1. The jist of your piece seems to be that the Council are opposing the supersewer for no reason at all. Whilst this is clearly possible, it's not likely to be the case. What's your take on their thinking?

  2. Hello H! The Council's position is laid out in many of the links inthe article but just to make it absolutely clear here is their line:

  3. Many thanks. I meant "gist", of course. Boiling a lot of words down, it seems that the Council objects to the cost and the disruption during building. I guess people objected to the original Bazalgette embankment on similar grounds. I guess both sides need to air their views.