Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Thursday 2 July – Thames Tideway Tunnel 'Community Liaison Working Group' + UPDATE

Not everyone will have received the leaflet from Thames Tideway Tunnel inviting them to 'join' their "Working Group". Those who did – and registered their interest – should by now have received an email invitation to attend a meeting this Thursday.

Thursday 2 July, 7-9pm, Deptford Lounge

The invitation says "If you are no longer able to attend or wish to bring somebody with you, please let us know by return email or by calling our 24 hour customer helpline on 0800 0721 086".

They make it sound like it's by appointment only!

The original leaflet read:

Deptford Church Street
Are you interested in playing a key role in your community? Have you taken an interest in the Thames Tideway Tunnel project and how it needs to work with residents, organisations and groups in your local area? If so, now is your chance to join the Deptford Church Street Community Liaison Working Group.

The first meeting will take place in July so don't wait, if you are interested in being involved or would like to find out more call our helpline on 0800 0721 086, email: getinvolved@tidewaytunnels.co.uk or go to our website www.thamestidewaytunnel.co.uk.

UPDATE: 5th July 2015, post-meeting

This blogger turned up at 7.15 to find herself the only attendee. There were 8-10 TW people sat around a large table area in the centre of the big hall. Asked if it was a drop-in or an agenda meeting, they said it was intended to be the latter, but couldn't be since no one had turned up.

The team was split between engineers and PR people. Another local resident turned up at around 7.30, so we asked how they had managed to arrive at such a low turnout (only 2 people by 8pm). How many had been sent the initial green leaflet? A PR person said everyone within a 100m radius had been posted the (green) invitation to register their interest – we forgot to ask how many that might be, but suggested that the impetus on people having to register ensured the numbers would be kept small, and that both Deptford's Heart and the Garden Association had not received sufficient notice, if any at all.

In fact Deptford's Heart has since posted that they only found out via a local councillor and had requested the meeting be rescheduled if response to the invitation looked likely to be low. Councillors were also not given sufficient notice. But the meeting went ahead anyway, and Deptford's Heart records a total attendance of four people from the community.

A 'Project Manager' explained to us that there would be "Early Works" beginning in "late autumn" this year. However, as Deptford's Heart has also posted, a letter recently went out notifying works that will happen in late July. No mention was made of this at the meeting.

The later "Early Works" are a preliminary to the "Major Works" in 2017, when they start digging the huge ventilator shaft on the green. The aim of the Early Works is to reroute BT and Virgin cables without damaging other utilities. This work will last 12-14 months in total as follows:

• First 3 months – Crossfield St will be dug up (closed)
• Second 3 months – Coffey St will be dug up (closed, while Crossfield St will reopen)
Third 6 months – Contraflow (partial closure) on Deptford Church St (between Crossfield St and Coffey St), April/May 2016

We brought up the subject of pollution. The largest vehicle used will be 71/2 tons (equivalent to large white van, apparently), plus a grab lorry for spoil "once or twice" a day. Their vehicles will be Euro-6 (latest 'super-clean' diesel) to produce less pollution. When the main work starts mid 2017 (to go on till 2020), there would be 9 lorries per day (a reduction on the previous figure).

They have been collecting data to establish a pollution baseline – you may have noticed the equipment positioned on the green at the St Joseph's School end. We were told the data will be collected, processed and passed to Environmental Health (at Lewisham?) BEFORE the work starts in Autumn. The road hasn't been monitored though, and we pointed out that any baselines established there would already be breaking EU limits (see our pollution test results from May last year), and that their enquiry evidence on the impact of the proposed partial closure (or 'contraflow') of Deptford Church Street was based on out-of-date stats from TfL. They still have no idea (nor any data on) what the impact is of an accident in Blackwall or Rotherhithe Tunnel.

We learned that in the main works, the tunnel (to Chambers Wharf) will be dug from Greenwich Pumping Station, which means spoil will not be coming out of the main shaft at Deptford Church Street. This might explain the reduction in lorries originally proposed. Spoil may well be carried away via the Creek but this is not confirmed.

With all the money being thrown at the project by the taxpayer, and all the cash Thames Water owners – the Australian investment group Macquarie – have stowed away in offshore tax havens, they could afford to be 'creative' and use the Creek – as can the developers around the Creek (despite pleading poverty or "lack of viability" when requested to provide anything for the community that will eat into their 20% profits).

The PR person said they would set up another meeting for September. We requested that better notice be given, and that everyone who has registered interest (about five as far as we could tell from a glimpse at their expected attendance sheet) should get digital copies of the materials circulated at the meeting. Ideally, a radius greater than 100m should be used for any invitations, since it won't just be local residents affected by three-mile-long traffic tail backs that may occur when the 'contraflow' is in place.

We told them the CLWG was a 'tick-box' exercise and a waste of our time. The only reason locals might be interested in attending would be to argue for more compensation, and not to receive information that could easily be disseminated via leaflet drops or email. The Project Manager said we'd be able to swim in the Thames when they'd finished building the tunnel. Not with those currents, we said. Another said we'll be able to have a say in how they make the green look afterwards. We said we'd probably be asking for a Heart and Lung Hospital to go on it.

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