Thames Tunnel plans raise some concerns

The London Assembly has published their response to a consultation on Thames Water's proposal to build a tunnel under the Thames.

The proposal is to deal with the problem of untreated sewage entering the river when the sewer systems become overloaded from rainfall.

The Assembly gives the scheme its overall approval but says it has some concerns about aspects of the plan. 

Thames Water’s proposal is to build a tunnel under the river so that any overflow from the sewers can be transported to the treatment works at Beckton, instead of flowing into the river.

The Assembly’s Health and Public Services Committee concludes that building a new interceptor tunnel is the most viable solution available but says a number of issues need to be addressed.

In particular they want clarity on how much customers will have to pay. They say there are continuing uncertainties over the planning process and how Thames Water will maximise the employment of Londoners during the project’s construction.

The Assembly’s Health and Public Services Committee chair James Cleverly AM, said: “Every year, 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage is discharged into the River Thames from London’s sewers – enough to fill the Albert Hall 450 times over.

“There is widespread consensus that this problem is getting worse and we believe the Thames Tunnel offers the best solution.

“However, there are a number of concerns that need to be addressed by Thames Water and its partners and we look forward to receiving further details of the scheme in the future.”

Thames Water has estimated that customers will face an additional charge of £60-£65 per year but it is uncertain how long these charges will last.

The response says it is also not clear how the most vulnerable customers will be protected if they cannot afford to pay their water bills.

It goes on to say it is disappointed that customers are being asked to comment on the proposal without clearer information on how much it will eventually cost them.

The London Assembly is calling for Thames Water and Ofwat to publish these details as soon as possible.

Alison Brown

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