Fresh hope for super sewer campaigners as Thames Water reconsiders Barn Elms site

Fresh hope: Thames Water said alternatives to Barn Elms were still being considered when officials met with Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith

Fresh hope: Thames Water said alternatives to Barn Elms were still being considered when officials met with Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith

First published in News by

Plans for a “super sewer” entrance on the site of a picturesque playing fields could yet change after Thames Water confirmed it was reconsidering the spot.

Representatives from the water company said alternatives to Barn Elms were still being considered when they met with Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith last Wednesday.

Mr Goldsmith met with Thames Water to discuss residents’ concerns over a main drive shaft being placed on the green space between Barnes and Putney.

A spokesman for the company said: "We had a useful meeting with Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith where we discussed the findings of the first phase of our public consultation.

"We told him we are looking again at both the locations and direction of drilling, as part of a thorough review of the feedback we have received from the consultation.”

Thames Water originally earmarked the greenfield site as a preferred site for a large entrance for drilling equipment to be lowered underground to create the proposed 23-mile London sewer.

But residents in neighbouring Barnes and Putney raised concerns about the site, including the fact it is on greenfield land, and the building of an entrance would entail 24-hour-a-day construction work, seven days a week, for three-and-a-half years.

Mr Goldsmith said Thames Water should look at bi-directional drilling - where the tunnel would be dug out going in two directions from one main shaft - to avoid disruption to Barn Elms’s neighbours.

He said: “More immediately, alternative sites to Barn Elms still need to be looked at much more carefully. [But] 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.”

Bi-directional tunnel drilling from a site further downstream could reduce the impact of London’s new super sewer construction as it would mean a smaller entrance would be located in Barnes.

Mr Goldsmith explained: “Briefly, if the combined sewage overflow (CSO) at Beverley Brook has to be intercepted, as the Environment Agency say, then a CSO connection at Barn Elms is inevitable. But this would require a small fraction of the disruption that a main drive shaft would involve.”

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