Zacís Questions, Debates and EDMs
The Constant Economy
Where do I Stand?
Barn Elms Report
Thames Water Follow up Letter
Summary of final short listed shaft sites
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Finalised proposals for the proposed Thames Tideway Tunnel, have been unveiled for a 12-week public preview.
The plans are due to be submitted for scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate early next year. This independent process will determine whether the project can progress to the construction phase, currently scheduled to get under way in 2015 /16.
Zac met the team in Parliament and pledge his support for the plans. LINK
Update May 2012
‘Supersewer’ essential to protect ecology of River Thames, London’s wildlife ‘Superhighway’
On the eve of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant, new report explains how
increasing sewage pollution to the tidal Thames risks undoing decades of
improvements to river water quality.
The report highlights how lack of capacity in Victorian sewerage network was
responsible for approximately half of pollution to river between Chiswick and
Hammersmith last June, which in total killed 26,000 fish.
10,000 tonnes of sewage-related litter, such as condoms, sanitary products and
cotton buds, flushed into the river every year.
Green campaigner Tony Juniper: “The Thames Tunnel is not an optional nicety,
it’s a long overdue environmental necessity.”
Wildlife that has returned to the River Thames urgently needs the proposed
Thames Tunnel, according to a new Thames Water report, backed by the
Launched today (29 May) at Fishmongers Hall in the City, “Why does London’s
river need the Thames Tunnel?” explains how increasingly frequent discharges of
untreated sewage to the tidal Thames are devastating fish populations, and
threatening other wildlife, such as birds and insects.
The discharges occur around once a week on average, when London’s Victorian
sewerage network fills to capacity, sometimes after as little as 2mm of
rainfall. They enter the river via ‘combined sewer overflows’ (CSOs),
integral to the design of the network, founded over 150 years ago by Sir Joseph
Though diluted by rainwater, the sewage washed into the river from homes and
businesses is a potent cocktail of pollutants, containing pathogenic bacteria
and viruses, as well as pharmaceutical products, petroleum residues, paints,
pesticides, plastics, fertilisers, fats, oils and heavy metals.
Tidal effects mean that the discharges can linger in the river for up to three months:
Depleted oxygen levels a killer for fish life
- The river is also a vital nursery ground for species fished
commercially in the North Sea, such as smelt, sea trout, eel, bass and
- Young fish, vital for species’ long-term survival, are particularly
vulnerable to reduced levels of oxygen in the river, caused by the CSO
- The problem is particularly acute during summer months, when
warmer temperatures accelerate the depletion of oxygen levels.
- Fish exposed to even low levels of ammonia over time become
more susceptible to bacterial infections, impeding their growth.
On 6 June 2011, 30mm of rainfall in west London caused more than more than
450,000 cubic metres of sewage (enough to fill 86,000 builder’s skips) to spew
into the RiverThames from CSOs between Chiswick and Hammersmith and via
Mogden Sewage Treatment Works in Twickenham. This one incident wiped out an
estimated 26,000 fish, including species of high conservation value, such as
sea trout, eel and smelt.
Sewage-related litter blights the landscape and wildlife
- An estimated 10,000 tonnes of sewage-related litter, such as
condoms, sanitary towels and cotton buds, is flushed into the River Thames
every year via the CSOs.
- Not only are these products an unsightly blot on the
landscape, often becoming embedded in the foreshore, they never truly
disappear. As they gradually break down into smaller pieces, they are injested
by worms and other invertebrates, polluting the food chain for fish and birds
- Larger birds and aquatic mammals, such as dolphins and
porpoises, can choke to death when they mistake larger items of litter for
The commercial benefits of a cleaner river
- Aside from their ecological and biodiversity value, healthy
fish stocks in the river are economically important too.
- Trade in species dependent on the river, such as dover sole,
thornback ray and bass, as well as cockles and other shellfish, is a key
contributor to the wider economy of the UK.
- Speaking at the launch, green campaigner and sustainability
specialist Tony Juniper will say: “The Thames Tunnel is not an optional
nicety, it’s an environmental necessity. Increasing levels of sewage in
the river are a very real threat to the well-being of one of the country’s most
important ecological assets and the rich diversity of wildlife it supports.
Population growth and the impacts of climate change add to the urgency to solve
this problem for the long-term. I call on everyone who cares about the
river to get behind this long overdue project.”
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust, said: “The very
location of London was determined by the great meeting point of marine and
freshwater ecology that provided plentiful food to Londoners for thousands of
years. The estuary is poised to recover this role, but it cannot do so unless
the problem of overflowing sewers is tackled. A restored river would
provide a massive boost to the angling industry in London and help the sea
angling and commercial fisheries of the outer estuary and the North Sea. The
only feasible way to achieve this vision, and the most cost-effective, is to
build the Thames Tunnel. It should have been built decades ago'
Richard Aylard, Thames Water’s External Affairs and Sustainability Director,
said: “These discharges are the last major source of pollution to the tidal
river. A lot of hard work and investment, funded by our customers, has made the
river a lot cleaner than it was just a few decades ago, but we urgently need
the Thames Tunnel to help keep it that way. Without the Thames Tunnel,
the huge improvements achieved in recent years would be quickly reversed.
That’s an unacceptable legacy to hand on to future generations to sort out. “
Notes to editors
The report ‘Why does London’s river need the Thames Tunnel?’
can be downloaded from the consultation website: http://www.thamestunnelconsultation.co.uk/
Other speakers at the report’s launch will include Roger De
Freitas (from the Hammersmith Society and river clean up charity Thames21), and
Jill Goddard (Chief Executive of the Thames Estuary Partnership).
For further information, or to attend the report launch,
please contact Nick Tennant (07789 961408), or the Thames Water Press Office
(0203 577 4364).
Update May 2012
On 17th May 2012, Thames Water
published its report on the second phase of public consultation for the
proposed Thames Tunnel project. The
report states that none of the 24 preferred sites for the Thames construction
have changed, which is great news, as it means that there are no plans to site
a main drive shaft on Barn Elms.
Thames Water has however decided that it
wants to change the access route
to the proposed local Combined Sewer Overflow in the South East corner
of Barn Elms playing fields.
The report also states that Thames Water
wishes to amend the scale and design of the permanent structures at the site in
order to reduce the impacts on the local community and the environment.
Details of the proposed changes will be
announced on the 6th of June, when residents and businesses will be able to
participate in a new consultation phase which will close at 5pm on the 4th of
Thames Water will hold a drop in session
between 2pm and 8pm, on 13th and 14th of June at the WWT London Wetland Centre,
Queen Elizabeth's Walk, SW13 9WT, which will allow residents to ask questions
and find out more about the proposed changes.
The full Summary Report on Phase Two
Consultation can be found here:
Update November 2011
Phase II Consultation now Open
Following Thames Water’s very welcome announcement last
week, I wanted to let you know that the Thames Tunnel’s Phase II Consultation
is now open for submissions.
The consultation will remain open until 10th February 2012, and all the details
and information can be found here:
Even though Barn Elms is no longer the preferred site, Thames Water is still
consulting, and I strongly encourage you therefore to register your views. This
will help ensure Barn Elms remains protected, and (if you agree) it allows you
to register your support for the tunnel project as a whole.
If you have any questions for Thames Water, or you want to read more about the
project, the list of future drop-in seminars can be found here
Update November 2011
Thames Water Rule out Barnes
Thames Water has announced that Barn Elms playing fields are no longer the
preferred site for construction of the main drive shaft for the proposed Thames
Barn Elms had been named as Thames Water’s preferred choice when its
consultation began on the 13th September 2010. However, a coalition of
residents, councillors, MPs and GLA members joined forces under 'The Save Barn
Elms Alliance' and ran a sustained campaign - culminating in June’s Barn Elms
Thames Water’s decision to rule out Barn Elms means that Londoners will be able
to continue to use the recreational facility.
Commenting, Zac said; “This is a real victory for local people. The campaign
brought the local community together, and as a result, we have managed to protect
the future of a valuable site. I am impressed by the rigorous and transparent
manner in which Thames Water has conducted this consultation, and I’m grateful
Both Zac, and neighbouring MP Justine greening had publicly backed the Thames
Water project as necessary to combat river pollution, but they made clear that
use of Barn Elms would have to be the very last resort. During the campaign,
Zac had said: “My own view is that this is a good project, we all love the
Thames, and this will certainly reduce pollution dramatically. But the local
ramifications are immense, Barn Elms is a much-loved and hugely important local
resource and I do not believe it is the right place for the main shaft.”
Thames Water’s second round of consultation on the Thames Tunnel will begin on
the 4th of November and will end on the 10th of February 2012. Thames water
will publish a report of the consultations’ findings in the late Spring of next
Update March 2011
Zac Goldsmith MP has welcomed Thames Water’s announcement that they are considering alternative sites to Barn Elms as the western entry point for the proposed Thames Tunnel. The planned twenty-three mile tunnel, dubbed the ‘super sewer’, is being billed as the solution to the vast amount of untreated sewage that flows into the Thames each year.
Barn Elms has been Thames Water’s preferred choice as the entry point for the Tunnel, and Zac Goldsmith has been pressing Thames Water to ensure that all other options are exhausted before decisions are taken.
Thames Water has now announced that they are reconsidering Hurlingham Wharf and Carnwath Business Park in Fulham as alternatives to Barn Elms. However it is likely that in any scenario secondary shafts would still be needed on or near the playing fields.
Commenting Zac said: ‘I am pleased that Thames Water is willing to reconsider brownfield sites for the location of the main drive shaft. I have long argued that Barn Elms should be the last resort, and only if the alternatives are legitimately ruled out.’
Update February 2011
After discussions with Thames Water, I have now received a list of sites which
were shortlisted for the Thames Tunnel other than Barn Elms.
To view this information please follow this link http://www.zacgoldsmith.com/default.asp?contentID=181
Following my recent meeting with Thames Water, it is clear that the company is
looking again at both the locations and direction of drilling, as part of its
review of the feedback from the consultation. If the CSO at Beverley Brook has
to be intercepted, as the EA say, then a CSO connection at Barn Elms in
inevitable. But this would require a small fraction of the disruption that a
main drive shaft would involve.
More immediately, alternative sites to Barn Elms still need to be looked at
much more carefully. For example, Hurlingham Wharf in Fulham is a brownfield
site. There will be local concerns, of course, but river access looks to be
much better, with less recreational activity and no need to bring construction
materials in over the Thames path.
If another site for the drive shaft really cannot be found then the impact on
Barn Elms has to be greatly reduced. Current plans are to drive both ways from
Barn Elms. I believe the drive between Barn Elms and Battersea should be
reversed, so that spoil comes out, and tunnel segments go in, as far downstream
as possible. I believe this would halve the impact at Barn Elms, the river and
The impact of the remaining drive (westwards) from Barn Elms could be reduced
by moving the construction site further upstream, away from homes, and by
minimising the size of the site. I would also want to see an exemplary site,
screened for noise and light pollution, and a real local legacy from the
project, including a new boathouse, improved playing fields and so on.
If you have any questions, please contact me via Tobias Sheppard in my
office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0208 939 0325.
Update January 2011
Zac Goldsmith MP and Justine Greening MP hosted a lively and well attended public meeting in Holy Trinity Church, Barnes during which Mr Goldsmith pledged to raise the concerns of local people in parliament and with the Mayor of London.
Hundreds of local residents attended to make their views about the proposed new ‘Super Sewer’ heard. The planned twenty-three mile tunnel, billed as the answer to the large amount of untreated sewage which flows into the Thames each year, will potentially have its entrance sited on the edge of Barn Elms playing fields.
The plan has raised objections from a large number of local residents and prompted the formation of a local group, STOPtheSHAFT, representing 5,000 local residents in Barnes and Putney.
During the meeting Thames Water gave a presentation of their plans and responded to questions from concerned local residents, many of whom were unhappy about the way the initial consultation process was handled as well as plans to build on the greenfield Barn Elms site, when alternative options could be available.
As well as pledging an adjournment debate in parliament, Mr Goldsmith stated that he would be taking the issue to Boris Johnson, saying: "with the best will in the world, it’s hard for local people to be objective, but legitimate questions remain to be answered about the choice of Barn Elms as the main site, and it makes sense for the Mayor to be involved in the decision, as he must take a London-wide strategic view”.
Update December 2010
Thames Water To Delay Super Sewer Consultation Following
Pressure From MP
Following pressure from Richmond and North Kingston MP, Zac Goldsmith and
Putney MP Justine Greening Thames Water has agreed to delay their consultation
on the proposed Super-Sewer. The new deadline is 5pm on Friday 14th January.
In a letter to Thames Water, the MPs wrote:
"We are convinced that to properly allow local residents to have their
say, the process should be extended beyond the December 20th deadline. The
holiday period will give residents time to take a more detailed look at the
We accept that to do so would cause difficulties, but the fact remains that
people have not been made sufficiently aware of a project that will define both
Boroughs for years to come.
Given the strength of feeling on this issue, and the number of residents this
development will directly affect, we both feel that a longer consultation
period is vital. We strongly urge you to reconsider your decision, and extend
the deadline until mid-January, and look forward to hearing from you
In response, Richard Aylard, External Affairs and Sustainability Director for
Thames Water, wrote: "I agree with your recommendation that we should
extend the consultation period, in order to remove any possible doubt about our
commitment to an open and positive process, and we have settled on 5pm on
Friday 14th January as the new end date."
Thames Water will also be sending a separate email to Zac and Justine this week
with a detailed report of the site selection process, which has led to Barn
Elms being the preferred site.
Commenting, Zac said: "It was clear at our public meeting that people had
not been properly consulted, so this response from Thames Water is very much
appreciated. I think the vast majority of people, including at a very heated
public meeting I chaired, support the super-sewer. But the local ramifications
are immense, and if we are to support the project, we need to be persuaded that
the Wandsworth part of Barn Elms is the only viable site."
Update November 2010
Following the public
meeting with Thames Water on Wednesday evening, I said I’d follow up with a
brief summary, outlining the main points of discussion, and highlighting the
issues we all agreed upon.
In fact Thames water has already produced the following briefing, (Thames Water follow up letter to the public meeting)
which addresses many of the points raised.
However, the key issue relates to the decision to site the main shaft on the
Wandsworth part of Barn Elms, and Thames Water are currently preparing a report about their decision to use Barn Elms.
The contents will require very careful examination, and once we've had a chance to read it, I will organise a second public meeting for residents and Councillors. I will also
ask the Council to take Thames Water up on its offer to help with distribution
My own view is that this is a good project, and will dramatically reduce
pollution of the Thames. But the local ramifications are immense, and the
case for using this site needs to be water-tight before residents (or I) can be
expected to support it.
Update November 2010
Zac Goldsmith MP hosted a meeting with
Thames Water on Wednesday 17th November to discuss the new “Super Sewer”
proposal for Barn Elms.
Over 100 people turned up to listen to a
presentation by Thames Water and to put their views to the panel consisting of
representatives from Thames Water, Zac Goldsmith MP and Conservative
Councillors from Barnes, North Richmond and Mortlake and Barnes Common.
Among the issues discussed at the meeting
- Selection of the Barn Elms site,
- Access routes to the site,
and noise pollution,
Thames Water agreed to put a list together
of all the alternative sites which had been considered for the super sewer and
the reasons for their rejection. The same was also promised for access
routes to the Barn Elms site.
Thames Water encouraged residents to send
in their thoughts on alternative sites, and access routes. They promised
that all suggestions would be considered.
Thames Water also raised the possibility of
enclosing the construction site within a temporary structure and to use
directional lighting. Combined, these steps would minimise the disruptive
sound and light during the construction phase.
Zac Goldsmith asked the room if people
accepted the principle of the Super Sewer, and all but one agreed. However, a
number of residents complained that they had not been properly consulted.
Zac said: “I think people genuinely
appreciated the chance to grill Thames Water and were impressed by their
willingness to tackle the difficult issues head on. But so far, the
consultation process hasn’t been effective, and I’m pleased that they agreed to
consider delaying the cut off point.”
The Thames Tunnel project, locally known as
‘The Super Sewer’ is a plan to construct a new sewerage overflow system on Barn
Elms Playing Fields, the aim of which is to reduce pollution in the River
Thames. The building work will cover an area roughly two times a
football pitch, and will last for seven years.
Details on the Thames Tunnel consultation
can be found on: http://www.thamestunnelconsultation.co.uk/
Update October 2010
Zac Goldsmith met with Thames Water last Thursday at Rose House in
Barnes to discuss the proposed ‘super sewer’, which is to be part
constructed from a site in Barn Elms.
He was joined by Barnes Councillor Rita Palmer, and a number of
representatives from Barn Elms user groups, including Barnes Eagles,
BEST and the Barnes Community Association.
Commenting, Zac said; “Most people welcome the plans to develop this
tunnel. We all love the Thames, and this will certainly reduce pollution
dramatically. But we wanted to be able to advise Thames Water on a
range of issues and concerns. For example, it is crucial that the
temporary access road is built in the most appropriate area, and we need
to be sure that the vast majority of freight is transported by river.”
He added; “This was the first of many meetings involving the local
community, and I think we were all impressed by Thames Water’s
willingness to negotiate.”
The building work will cover an area roughly two times a football pitch,
and will last for seven years. Thames Water will be holding further
consultations on the 20-21st October (10am-8pm) at the Wetland Centre in