Sunday, August 7, 2011

Don't Dump on Deptford

Last Saturday a protest was held outside St Paul's Church against Thames Water's proposal to situate next to the church a work site to connect the 'local combined sewer overflow' (CSO), known as Deptford Storm Relief (which runs under the length of Deptford Church Street) to the proposed Thames Tunnel project.

The site in question is a triangle of land next to Coffey Street, right opposite Congers and Farrer House. As Marmoset posted recently, the site is also close to two schools, and, of course, the historic St Paul's. The protest last Saturday was led by the rector, Father Paul Butler, and Cllr Alan Smith, Deputy Mayor – which means it has the full support of the Lewisham Labour group and Joan Ruddock MP.

Mr Smith, a civil engineer, was keen to point out that although this first protest was called Stop The Stink, it is not a bad smell that is going to be the problem – the campaign is therefore now known as Don't Dump on Deptford. See the protest covered in the South London Press.

The Deptford Dame has just posted her own analysis of the situation which helps to explain what the proposals may entail (and dispel one of two fears of protesters). As she points out, Thames Water still have to present more detailed plans for this site.

If you want to know more, come to the public meeting on Tuesday 9th August at 7.30pm, at the Salvation Army Hall in Mary Ann Gardens.

At the consultation held at Creekside Centre in June, Thames Water reps told us that their preferred site for these works is Borthwick Wharf, but there is opposition from the Environment Agency and local residents.

Plans to use Chambers Wharf in Bermondsey and King's Stairs Gardens in Rotherhithe as work sites for other connecting tunnels have also been met with vigorous local opposition.

Meanwhile, Hammersmith & Fulham Council are against the entire Thames Tunnel project, and have launched a Commission to address whether the Thames Tunnel is the best solution to making the river cleaner, supported by Southwark, Richmond and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

Wandsworth council are also opposed  and Tower Hamlets has recently joined the Commission and supports the SaveKemp (King Edward VII Memorial Park) campaign in Limehouse.

The Save Your Riverside campaign at Chambers Wharf says an alternative put forward by Ofwat, apparently based on world class research, is estimated to solve the overflow problem at only 52% of its cost (the Tunnel is estimated to cost £1m per metre). The campaign also points out that Thames Water customers face significantly inflated bills for the long term as alternatives are brushed aside.

Local news digest 8:16 News reports from a Save Your Riverside press release that the cost of the Tunnel "would have to be paid for in full by Thames Water customers, not its shareholders. For the next five years every Thames Water customer, from the Cotswolds to Kent, would have to pay an additional estimated £80 annually on their water bills (assuming no overruns for a project whose estimated cost has already doubled since its first draft), potentially pushing some people into 'water poverty'..."

Furthermore, "Once built, the Tunnel, paid for by the public, would end up as an asset on Thames Water's balance sheet (principally owned by Australian Investment Bank Macquarie). They would be in a position to continue to pass on maintenance costs for the long term to their customers, who have no way of voting with their feet, due to the regulated monopoly nature of the Thames Water arrangement."

(You can download the latest copy of 8.16 News here).

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