UK: Rookery SPP Over As Thames Tideway Tunnel Application Made

Last Updated: 8 March 2013
Article by Angus Walker

Today's entry reports on one project's emergence from the Planning Act regime as the largest application to date is made.

Rookery South decision

Yesterday, the committee of three MPs and three peers that considered the development consent order (DCO) for the Rookery South energy from waste project under 'special parliamentary procedure' issued its report.  As it is not proposing any changes to the DCO, this signals the end of special parliamentary procedure (SPP) for the application, 504 days after it received consent.

The report can be found here. Significant points are as follows

  • the committee has not made any changes to the Order (after all that);
  • project promoter Covanta energy has agreed to fork out £3,375,000 to account for the increased cost to the proposed Bedford to Milton Keynes waterway that its project will cause;
  • the committee noted that the local authorities did not make significant submissions on the issue that triggered SPP - the compulsory acquisition of their land; and
  • the committee suggested they might have been interested in an amendment requiring a proportion of materials to come by rail rather than road.

The order will now be formally published, triggering the six-week judicial review period.

Thames Tideway Tunnel application

Also yesterday, and just sneaking in at the end of the third year of the Planning Act's operation, Thames Water has submitted a 50,000 page application for the proposed Thames Tideway Tunnel.  This tunnel, dubbed the 'supersewer', would be constructed under the River Thames in central London and would intercept sewage from going into the Thames when the sewage system overflows, particularly after heavy rain. The EU has commenced infraction proceedings against the UK for breaching the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, and this project is intended to cure the problem.

This is a big project - probably the largest under the Planning Act so far (sorry, Hinkley Point C).  The main tunnel has a larger diameter than the tunnels currently being bored under London for Crossrail, and the project includes land in 14 local authority areas in London.  The number of land parcels to be acquired or occupied is expected to run into tens of thousands, where Crossrail was a mere 5,500.

Although the main tunnel mainly runs under the River Thames, some of it is under land, there are a couple of side tunnels, and at 21 sites along the river in London from Hammersmith in the west to Newham in the east, there will be construction works and some permanent infrastructure.

The choice of some of these sites has been controversial, particularly as some green spaces along the river will be occupied while the works are carried out, which will be for a number of years, with parts of them permanently occupied.

The full set of application documents will not be published by the Planning Inspectorate for a month or so, but the plans that Thames Water deposited in May can be found on their website, and the ones showing the route in detail can be found here. The Planning Inspectorate have published one of the application documents, though, so that local authorities can decide whether to make an 'adequacy of consultation representation' - the consultation report (caution: 34 files of 64MB).

I will now attempt a verbal description of the route, which gives a good picture of how it crosses central London.

  • The tunnel starts at Acton Storm Tanks, Warple Way, W3.  It then runs underground between Abingdon Road, W4 and Emlyn Road, W3, Welstead Way, Ravensmede Way, Netheravon Road, W4, crossing the Great West Road and Chiswick Way at Miller's Court and then crossing the Thames.
  • It then passes between St Paul's School and Lilian Road, SW13, crosses beneath Hammersmith Bridge and from then on follows the route of the Thames.  There are surface sites along the way at Hammersmith Pumping Station, Chancellor's Road, W6, Barn Elms playing fields, Beverley Brook, SW13 Leader's Gardens, SW15, a small site at Rocks Lane, SW13, Putney Embankment and Putney Bridge, SW15.
  • A side tunnel runs from King George's Park, along Buckhold Road, Church Row, Dormay Street, SW18 (with a surface site there), and along Bell Lane Creek to the river.
  • The main tunnel continues under the river with the tunnel launch site at Carnwath Road, SW6, and a small site on the corner of Wandsworth Bridge Road, then surface sites at Falconbrook Pumping Station at York Gardens, York Road, SW11, Cremorne Wharf, Lots Road, SW10, Chelsea Embankment at Ranelagh Gardens, SW3, a site at Kirtling Street, Cringle Street and Nine Elms Lane, SW8, including Heathwall Pumping Station.
  • There are then surface sites at Albert Embankment at Vauxhall Bridge, SW8, Victoria Embankment at Hungerford Bridge, SW1 and Blackfriars Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge Pier, EC4, Shad Thames Pumping Station, Maguire Street, EC1, and Chambers Wharf, Chambers Street, SE16.
  • A side tunnel runs from Chambers Wharf inland along Bevington Street, crossing Tranton Road and Collett Road, and Webster Road, then allong Clement's Road, under Southwark Park, crossing Gomm Road, Lower Road, Redriff Road and Plough Way, SE16 to Earl Pumping Station at Woodcroft Mews, then on to Rainsborough Avenue, Oxestalls Road, SE16, then along Evelyn Street, SE8, across Deptford High Street to a site at Deptford Church Street, SE8, ending at Greenwich Pumping Station on Norman Road, SE10.
  • The main tunnel continues under the river with a surface site at King Edward VII Memorial Park, E1, where it turns inland across Narrow Street, the Limehouse Link and Commerical Road, E14, finally running under the Limehouse Cut to Abbey Mills Pumping Station, E15. The tunnel will connect to the Lee Tunnel being constructed to Beckton Sewage Works, where some more works will take place.

Thames Water have a picture of their application on their website, and this is what the Planning Inspectorate now have 28 days to read and decide to accept for examination, or reject.

If it decides to accept the application, then an opportunity to make representations will run for at least 28 days shortly thereafter (i.e. starting in mid-April or so). Those who have made representations, statutory bodies and those having land acquired will then have an opportunity to participate in the examination of the application.

If you would like to know more about the Planning Act process as it will work for this project and how to make representations about it, feel free to get in touch.

Application statistics

Today, 1 March 2013, is the third anniversary of the Planning Act regime being 'switched on' for applications to be made under it. What are the stats looking like? The Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal III application was made for a second time last Friday, so I can't decide if that is a new application or the same application. Given that the application fee was presumably payable each time, perhaps it's a new applicaton, so:

  • Year 1: 3 applications - 1 approved, 1 rejected, 1 withdrawn
  • Year 2: 10 applications - 3 approved, 7 in progress
  • Year 3: 14 applications - 11 in progress, 1 rejected, 2 withdrawn

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Angus Walker
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