Today's entry is a timely update of various matters relating
to the proposed Thames Tunnel.
There have been a few recent developments relating to the
proposed Thames Tunnel 'super sewer'. This is the proposed
tunnel that will run beneath the River Thames from Hammersmith to
Beckton in London and intercept the sewage overflows that tend to
happen after heavy rain before they go into the Thames.
A second round of consultation on the project ended on 10
February. Thames Water have said that they will consider the
responses and publish a report in the second half of May about how
they have taken them into account and any changes they have made as
The next stage will be the formal pre-application consultation
under the Planning Act (assuming it is a Planning Act project by
then - see below), and finally an application to the Planning
Inspectorate in the autumn.
Debate on Waste Water National Policy Statement
The draft Waste Water National Policy Statement (NPS) is the
document that sets out the need for waste water infrastructure and
the impacts that should be assessed and mitigated against when
preparing and examining applications. The NPS explicitly mentions
the Thames Tunnel as one of only two expected projects (the other
being a sewage treatment works at Edmonton in north London), and a
was published on 9 February.
A debate on the NPS is to take place in the House of Commons
next Monday 19 March. There is plenty of time for it because
apparently most government bills are currently stuck in the Lords
and MPs are twiddling their thumbs. It is likely that a lot of the
debate will be taken up talking about the Thames Tunnel, as it has
generated a lot of interest amongst London's riparian
Assuming the NPS does not receive a negative vote in the
Commons, it is expected to be designated (adopted as finalised) by
the end of the month.
The government is promoting a short bill that includes the
ability for it to contribute to the funding of major water and
sewerage projects. If enacted, the Water Industry (Financial Assistance) Bill may
well mean that some of the costs of the tunnel will be met by
general taxpayers rather than just Thames Water customers. The Bill
starts its committee stage in the Commons today.
Section 14 Order
There is no sign of the order that was supposed to be coming in
February that will amend the Planning Act to include sewerage
transfer projects (and hence the Thames Tunnel) within the regime,
because it isn't actually a nationally significant
infrastructure project (NSIP) at the moment. A draft order was
consulted on last year and can be found here.
From 1 April anyone will be able to ask the government to
declare that a project is of national significance and should come
under the regime. If the order still hasn't come by then I
would recommend that Thames Water makes the application. In fact I
might do so myself to test the system.
Not being an official Planning Act project makes matters more
difficult than usual for Thames Water. They couldn't ask the
Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) for a scoping opinion, for
example, but the IPC gave advice equivalent to one under its
general powers to give advice in the Planning Act.
Thames Water can't use the ability to survey land in advance
of making an application either, also being extended on 1 April. It
is using its powers under the Water Industry Act 1991 to do this
instead, which apply to works being carried out under that Act. The
sooner the project is an NSIP the better.
Defra swoops to safeguard land
The government have moved to prevent two London councils from
granting planning permission at two proposed Thames Tunnel sites -
Carnwath Road in Hammersmith & Fulham, the site currently
proposed for the launch of one of the main tunnel drives, and
Kirtling Street in Wandsworth. They have done this by means of a
'planning direction' that means that any prospective grant
of planning permission at the site should be referred to the
The direction can be found here. H&F weren't very happy about it,
according to this
news story. The government normally consult on such things but
must have felt that a pre-emptive strike was necessary.
If you want to know more about this project, check the
Water website about it. If you want to know how to safeguard
your interests, please get in touch, since we are able to
advise those affected by this major project.
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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