Fury in Fulham as Thames Water Chooses Carnwath Road for Super Sewer Site

Campaigners threaten "direct action protests" over proposed tunnel shaft

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Fulham RATS statement in full

Thames Tunnel Commission Report in Full

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Campaigners in Fulham have reacted with fury to the news that Thames Water has chosen Carnwath Road on Fulham's riverside as its preferred site for the construction of an access shaft to the Thames Tunnel, or super sewer as it is widely known.

Its decision, switching focus from Barn Elms across the river, is revealed in revised plans for the Thames Tunnel, published today ahead of a Phase 2 14 week public consultation.

Fulham RATS - Residents Against the Sewer in Fulham - have issued a statement condemning the decision and threatening to take "direct action protests".

They have released a statement today saying:

" Furious Fulham anti- super sewer site campaigners have vowed to fight on following Thames Water’s
announcement today that it was proposing to switch one of its main proposed supersewer construction sites to a tiny site in the middle of a densely residential part of Fulham instead of its previous preferred area at Barn Elms in Putney, a large area of open space.

" Two local groups, Residents Against the Sewer in Fulham (RATSF) and Peterborough Road & Area
Residents Association (PRARA) have joined forces to campaign to get Thames Water to reverse the
decision in time for the final selection deadline expected next Spring.

" The groups have accused Thames Water of caving in to improper political pressure to choose a
residential rather than a "greenfield" site. They warn that such a clearly unjust decision will inflame
local anger and possibly lead to direct action protests."

Ann Rosenberg Bell, spokeswoman for RATSF and RARA, says: " This decision stinks of political
interference. We are outraged that Thames Water appear to have come to a cynical, politically
motivated decision which puts trees before people. Our own detailed site appraisal submission to the company shows beyond doubt that the commercial and human cost of choosing Carnwath Road rather than Barn Elms would be needlessly far more expensive.

" So it’s a bad deal for Thames Water customers, who are going to have to foot the entire inflated bill for this questionable and hugely disruptive scheme, and a terrible injustice for the community of South Fulham. Thames Water know it, and they know we know it.

" Up to now we have endeavoured to engage with Thames Water in a constructive,
cooperative spirit. We will maintain a dialogue with Thames Water but will now have to use all
other protest options open to us to persuade them to revert to their original choice of Barn Elms, which we suspect they would still prefer to use."

Hammersmith & Fulham MP Greg Hands says: " The news that Thames Water now prefers
Carnwath Road for the main tunnelling shaft will come as a devastating blow to the whole Fulham community, particularly to those thousands of people living in the immediate vicinity. This will be a giant construction site, the size of six football pitches, close to seven local schools, all for a scheme of highly questionable merit.

" This is not a final decision, however, and I will continue to fight for an alternative to be found to sewerage problems in the Thames. We have lost this significant battle, but the war is not over on this."

Thames Water explains its decision to name Carnwatch Road as the proposed location for one of the main tunnel drive sites as follows:

Carnwath Road Riverside in Fulham. Whiffin Wharf, Hurlingham Wharf and Carnwath Road Industrial Estate have together replaced Barn Elms Playing Fields, the previously preferred site on the Richmond/Wandsworth border.

This change has the benefit of using brownfield land rather than greenfield. Other factors influencing the switch include the need to reduce potentially serious health and safety risks to river users during the construction phase.

The location of the Carnwath Road sites, downstream of Putney Bridge, also means fewer, larger barges could be used to transport materials from the site. A further benefit would be bringing the safeguarded Hurlingham Wharf back into use, in line with the aims of the London Plan.

Using the Carnwath Road sites would also: avoid the need to divert a busy section of the Thames Path, prevent the temporary loss of a number of well-used sports pitches, and still allow the local council’s proposals for new development to regenerate the South Fulham Riverside area.

Should Thames Water go ahead with its decision, companies based in the industrial estate, including Topps Tiles and Howdens Joinery, will be forced to move elsewhere.

Phil Stride, Head of London Tideway Tunnels at Thames Water, says: " We have been working hard to refine our original plans, where possible, in the light of the concerns people have raised with us. This has resulted in some significant changes, also reflecting our absolute determination to balance overall disruption with the equally important need to ensure that the price tag remains affordable for our customers.

" There are no easy choices when it comes to selecting construction sites, but our focus during this latest phase of consultation will be to work with communities around our revised list of preferred sites to ensure we understand and address their concerns effectively. It is particularly important that we listen to local people’s views on what individual sites should look and feel like after construction work has finished."

Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which is campaigning against the entire Thames Tunnel project, is giving its backing the RATS. Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, H&F Council Leader says:" Blighting the lives of thousands of Fulham residents, threatening homes, jobs and local schools - not to mention the disruption on our roads - for six years is outrageous. We will continue to defend residents' and water bill payers' interests by highlighting the sensible alternatives to cleaning up the Thames that do exist."

Earlier this week a commission led by Lord Selborne and sponsored by five London councils, including Hammersmith and Fulham, recommended a rethink on the planned Thames Tunnel, proposing instead a shorter tunnel with added green solutions.

Thames Water however have dismissed their findings, saying the commission has failed to find a credible alternative.

The council has proposed its own ideas for regenerating what it has dubbed South Fulham Riverside with plans for thousands of new homes and other amenities. This however conflicts with Mayor Boris Johnson's hopes for Hurlingham Wharf, one of three safeguarded London wharves which he is keen to see reactivated and brought back into its original use.

Thames Water is now inviting people to comment on the revised plans on the consultation website and will be holding a series of drop-in sessions starting on November 17. We'll bring you details of the local session as soon as we have them.

November 4, 2011