Utility Week

UTILITY Week 7th November 2014

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UTILITY WEEK | 7Th - 13Th NovEmbEr 2014 | 15 Policy & Regulation Analysis D espite being granted its development consent order (DCO) in September, the £4.2 billion Thames Tideway Tunnel still faces at least a couple more hurdles. Since the idea was mooted back in 2005, the supersewer has faced criticism from all sides because of its expense, the disruption it will cause and the environmental impact it will have. Now two legal challenges and appeals for judicial reviews have been made. One has been submitted by Southwark Council, and the other by Thames Blue-Green Economy, a group of independent experts – including engineers, environmentalists and lawyers. Southwark is opposing the proposed use of the Chamber's Wharf site as one of the 24 construction sites for the project. Council leader Peter John said the super sewer would have a "devastating impact" on thousands of people living around the Cham- ber's Wharf site and that the council backed the opinions of five planning inspectors who individually concluded that Abbey Mills would be a more appropriate site. He added: "We have discussed this with legal counsel and believe we have a strong case, but we are under no illusions, we are very much David taking on Goliath." Save Your Riverside residents' campaign group chair Barney Holbeche also backs Southwark's appeal for a judicial review. He said: "The credibility of the planning process is in doubt." A potentially more significant obstacle to the Tideway Tunnel comes from the Thames Blue-Green Economy group, which wants to stop the supersewer project so "cheaper, quicker, lower risk, and more sustainable" solutions can be implemented. The group believes the project is over- priced and unnecessary, but the basis for the legal challenge "is a straightforward one that there was inadequate consultation", accord- ing to Emily Shirley, a vocal supporter of Thames Blue-Green Economy's campaign, a non-practising barrister, and director of Kent Environment and Community Network. This, she told Utility Week, breaches the Aarhus Convention, which became active in European Law in 2001. The Arhus Conven- tion – named aer the Danish city where it was adopted – says parties to the convention must ensure access to environmental infor- mation, public participation in environmen- tal decision-making and access to justice. Shirley said: "The government could not consider all the issues raised because they had taken away those considerations from themselves." This, she said, breaches the second pillar of the convention because there was not suit- able or adequate consultation and the only option put before the public was that of the supersewer. Dido Berkeley, director of Thames Blue Green Economy, said Thames Water, had a "very smooth PR campaign" to convince the public the supersewer was "the only option". She told Utility Week that, if the Thames Blue-Green Economy appeal is unsuccessful, the group will look to continue its legal chal- lenge, potentially taking the case all the way to the European Court of Justice. However, the actions taken by Thames Blue-Green Economy and Southwark Council do not appear to concern either the govern- ment or the Thames Tideway Tunnel team. A project representative said that "work on the project is continuing as business as usual". The government is equally confident. A spokesman said: "We have full confidence in the robustness of the development con- sent order." The appeals for the judicial reviews are likely to be heard in the coming month, and we will then find out how robust the gov- ernment's DCO is, and whether the Thames Tideway Tunnel does face a serious threat to its future. Tideway isn't home and dry The Thames Tideway Tunnel may have received consent from the government, but there is still plenty of local and national opposition to the project. Mathew Beech reports. Main tunnel drive site Main tunnel reception site CSO site Site types Short connection tunnel drive site Long connection tunnel drive site System modifications Main tunnel Connection tunnels Chamber's Wharf site Tunnel titbits 5km tunnel Up to 65 metres below the river 7.2 metre diameter Capacity of 1.6 million cubic metres Seven years to build Cost of £4.2 billion (2011 prices) 24 construction sites, 11 of which would be located along the river bank The main tunnelling work is expected to start in 2016 £80 added to consumer bills

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