The campaign initiated by Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart started in 2011. This year we reported in detail the well attended Open Floor Hearings held by the Planning Inspectorate at Deptford Lounge in February. Also that month, along with a small number of Crossfields residents and others, we took part in some air quality testing to map the pollution levels on Deptford Church Street, surrounding areas and beyond. We announced the shocking results in May. The aim was show to how the partial closure of Deptford Church Street required to build a tunnel shaft at this site would have a severe impact on local residents.
Whilst the final decision on the Thames Tunnel was in the hands of the Secretaries of State, the Deptford High Street Garden Association began to develop a container garden on the Deptford Church Street site.
The campaign by Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart (with assistance this year from Joan Ruddock MP, plus Joe Dromey and Brenda Dacre who have since become New Cross councillors), the opposition of Lewisham Council, plus the work done by a few folk on Crossfields, all seems to have made an impression on the Examining Authority. In their view "the use of the Green as a work site would be a serious loss to the local community" and even with the mitigation measures proposed by Thames Water, there will be significant impacts on St Joseph's School and St Paul's Church. But...
The Secretaries of State Decision Letter and Statement of Reasons can be found here. A paragraph on Air Quality mentions the local air quality testing we did in February:
"(para 28) The independent Deptford air quality surveys contained within representations from J.Ruddock MP / S. Lawes agree with the findings of the Applicant that Deptford’s current air quality has pollutants in excess of EU targets. The Report states that the construction phase of the tunnel will add to pollution levels in Deptford. The ExA conclude that this increase will not be substantial and the Secretaries of State agree with this and are content that the impact is acceptable".The section on Deptford Church Street can be found in paragraphs 113-115:
"113. The Secretaries of State accept that the ExA’s examination revealed limitations with this site, particularly in terms of loss of open space in an area of deprivation and in respect of noise impacts on St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School and on St Paul’s Church, for a period of three and half years during construction."The actual Planning Inspectorate's recommendations on which the Secretaries of State have based their decision can be found here. Skip through the huge report to page 357 to find out what they said about the site at Deptford Church Street.
"114. The Secretaries of State acknowledge that the ExA consider the loss of open space at this site to be a matter weighing against making the Order. They agree with the ExA, that Crossfield Amenity Green is not surplus to requirements and that even the temporary period in which it will be used as a work site will represent a serious loss to the community. However, the Secretaries of State agree with the ExA that the impact will be mitigated and the adverse impact on the landscape will be reversed . They also note that it will be open to the local authority to secure with the Applicant through the consent process under section 61 of the Control of Pollution Act 23 1974, additional mitigation measures in the form of noise enclosures, to help minimise noise impacts predicted on receptors."
"115. The Secretaries of State agree that the alternative sites considered offer no less significant impacts, that the need for, and benefits of, the project overall outweigh the adverse effects and the temporary loss of open space, and are satisfied that impacts are mitigated as far as practicable since some disruption is unavoidable in a project of this scale."
Because campaigners had focused on the only alternative presented by Thames Water (another 'interceptor site' at Borthwick Wharf) the panel restricted themselves to considering only that alternative. They did not look in detail at previously suggested alternatives. And they did not think Borthwick Wharf was suitable either because it was so close to people's homes. Never mind that one residential home at Millennium Quay was given the same weighting (as a "receptor") as one whole school of a few hundred children at Deptford Church Street!
The panel noted that Thames Water had not presented the alternative "of avoiding the use of an interception site by redirecting the storm overflow direct to Greenwich Pumping Station, which is only approximately 400m from the Deptford Church Street site". Unbeknownst to us, the panel questioned Thames Water on this but they demonstrated that such a proposal was much worse – including the requirement to demolish the Birds Nest pub!
The Planning Inspectorate concluded that "a suitable alternative is not before us" and consequently the government have approved the Deptford Church Street site.
Now, as the news sinks in, there's a bit of fighting talk about judicial reviews on the whole project, or trying to get better mitigation locally. If you want to contribute to the debate, get in touch with our local councillor Joe Dromey.
But the Thames Tideway Tunnel isn't the only juggernaut heading our way. Whilst the development at Convoys Wharf (which, from a Crossfields point of view, will bring hundreds of HGVs thundering down our road) can be partly blamed on the policies of the current Mayor of London, Lewisham Council's own plans for our little area are not that short of a steamroller...