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Thames Tideway Tunnel goes ahead

Words: Laura Edgar
Phil Stride (head of Thames Tideway Tunnel, left) and Andy Mitchell (CEO, right)

Eric Pickles and Elizabeth Truss have approved an application by Thames Water to build London’s ‘super sewer’.

An application by Thames Water Utilities for a Development Consent Order, which would allow them to construct and operate the Thames Tideway Tunnel, has been approved by the communities and environment secretaries. They said that on conclusion the case is good for making an order granting consent for the development.

The approval, which is for the biggest infrastructure project to go through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), follows six months of examination by a panel of inspectors appointed by the secretaries of state. 

The tunnel, which will be 25 km in length, will run from the Acton Storm Tanks in West London, underneath the river to the Abbey Mills pumping station in East London, where it will be connected to the Lee Tunnel.

After being collected from the 34 most polluting discharge points along the River Thames, the sewage will be taken via the Lee Tunnel to Beckton sewage works for treatment.

Construction of the development is set to start in 2016 with an expected completion date of 2023.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said: “This is a challenging infrastructure project, but it is clear that the Thames Tunnel will help modernise London’s ageing Victorian sewerage system, and make the River Thames cleaner and safer.”

Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “In the 21st century, London should not have a river that is polluted by sewage every time there is heavy rainfall.

“The Thames Tunnel is considered to be the best solution to address London’s outdated sewerage infrastructure.”

In a post on the Thames Tideway Tunnel website, the chief executive, Andy Mitchell, explained that the project is huge because the problem is huge and they can now start tackling it. 

He said: “Hardly a week goes by when untreated sewage isn't pouring in to London’s river and we are pleased that we can now start to tackle this archaic problem.

“It’s no easy task, but we’re confident that we can deliver this project and still achieve our aim of minimising the impact on our customer bills.”