Utility Week

UTILITY Week 30th January 2015

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UTILITY WEEK | 30Th JanUarY - 5Th FEbrUarY 2015 | 7 Interview T unnelling under the Thames was never going to be easy, but Andrew Mitchell, chief executive of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, has experience of man- aging tricky projects on a grand scale. The former pro- gramme director at Crossrail joined Thames last spring and, in a little under a year, has seen away a clutch of judicial challenges, winning victory in the planning halls, with the tunnel now fully consented and work set to start next year. Meeting Utility Week as he prepares for another action-packed year, Mitchell outlines his plans for a "new water company", and the super-sewer that he believes will breathe new life into the Thames. The planning issues around the tunnel are now all but resolved. Last week, the High Court rejected four appeals for a judicial review of the project. It won full planning permission in September last year, despite pockets of vociferous local opposition, and a concerted campaign by figures including Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes. While not everyone is satisfied that the tunnel is the best way to solve London's sewerage problems, it seems clear the mega-project will go ahead as planned. Indeed, the remaining questions centre on its financing, the detail of the construction and the project's potential once built. Due to the significant cost of the super sewer – £4.2 billion at the last count – Thames Water is setting up and then in effect selling on the venture, creating a new utility company. The water company has done bat- tle several times with Ofwat over the funding of the tun- nel, beginning with its request to raise customer bills at the end of the AMP5 cycle, the attempted IDoK that was rejected by Ofwat in 2013. Its proposed charges relating to the Thames Tunnel in AMP6 have also caused issues in the PR14 cycle, though these appear to be approach- ing resolution, with Ofwat granting Thames various allowances relating to the tunnel in its final determina- tion, which Thames seems likely to accept. Mitchell acknowledges that the establishment of a separate company is an "unusual process". He says: "[We're] setting up a new water company from scratch – which technically hasn't been done before as all the previous water companies were part of existing industry that was packaged up. [It's] giving birth to a new water company." But before the Thames Tideway tunnel is cast out into the world, Thames Water is nurturing its offspring and helping it to establish a footing. The process will be

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