Posted: Friday 8th March 2013

Environmental and amenity coalition calls for Mayor to back Thames Tunnel planning permission.

A broad coalition of environmental and amenity groups has urged the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to put his weight behind the Thames Tunnel project ahead of its submission to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate on February 28th.

Thames Tunnel Now (TTN) is calling for the final progression of the tunnel to tackle the on-going sewage pollution of the River Thames, which has only worsened during 10 years of research and debate.

TTN member and Chairman of the River Thames Society, Peter Finch said: “Our sewerage system urgently needs more capacity to meet the needs of modern day London.”

The Mayor was an early supporter of the Thames Tunnel project, and TTN urges him to stand his ground and to not be swayed by the small number of highly vocal groups that oppose this essential project.

Boris Johnson wrote in his Telegraph column in September 2011:

“Unless we act, neither man nor beast will survive the Thames in 10 years’ time... We are facing the long-term deterioration in Thames water quality, and unless we act now I am afraid no one in their right mind will be swimming this river in 10 years’ is time to recognise that we can no longer rely on Victorian capital, and why Thames Water is right to be consulting on its proposed super-sewer, known as the Thames Tideway Tunnel. It is a breathtakingly ambitious project, on a scale that would have attracted the approval of Brunel and Bazalgette themselves.”

London’s sewerage system, founded over 150 years ago, was future-proofed for a maximum of 2 million Londoners. Today, we are now almost 8 million and rising. Overflows pumped into the Thames were originally designed as a last resort in times of unnaturally high rainfall. Now however, our overloaded sewerage system forces untreated sewage into the River Thames after as little as 2mm of rain. Our iconic river, which is used by over 30 watersports clubs and thousands of tourists and walkers each day, is contaminated with harmful pathogens, viruses and bacteria, such as E coli, hepatitis A and faecal streptococci. Indeed, these sewage discharges breach the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive; the UK would face the prospect of hefty fines, if the tunnel is not built.

Chief Executive of Thames21 Debbie Leach said:

“The Thames has made significant recovery in recent years, but we must have no doubt about the severity of the current situation; raw sewage is entering the river at least once a week, threatening not just the many fish, birds and mammals that depend on it, but human health too. We cannot afford to delay this desperately needed action any further if we want the Thames to maintain its role as a vital wildlife nursery, global tourist destination and source of recreation and respite for Londoners.”

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