Campaigners react as super sewer plans put under the spotlight
Campaigners on both sides of the Thames Tideway Tunnel debate have vowed to stand their ground as the plans are put under the spotlight.
Last week saw the start of an examination of a planning application, submitted by Thames Water, to create a super sewer to tackle the millions of tonnes of untreated sewage that seeps into the river each year.
The water company previously branded the scheme as "urgently required", with the current system spanning 150-years and designed to cater for a population of 2million Londoners - a figure which has now duplicated by almost four times.
The tunnel's proposed path would require construction sites ranging from Acton to Abbey Mills Pumping Station, in Stratford, and link up with the Lee Tunnel which is currently being built.
Debbie Leach, chair of Thames Tunnel Now and CEO of charity Thames 21, said it welcomed the start of the formal planning application process and saw "no reason" for further delays to the project.
"The critics have consistently failed to come up with any viable alternative scheme that meets both the public health and the environmental objectives set down by the Government and the EU," she said.
"The time for arguments over the principle of the Tunnel is well and truly over.
"We must get on with planning and building it as soon as possible in order to bring an end to the national disgrace which is the condition of London's river."
She added that the UK was lagging behind compared to other global cities such as Stockholm, Paris and Washington which have already put in place similar projects.
The Save Your Riverside Action Group has continually called for a re-think on its location, arguing the three-year construction period for that section of the tunnel will devastate the livelihood of Southwark.
Ana Williams, campaigner, said it was "laughable" for Ms Leach to say anti-Tideway Tunnel campaigners had lost the argument.
She said: "This super sewer will ruin the lives of thousands of local residents and schoolchildren in an area that just isn't suitable for a project this scale and the thousands of proposed lorry movements each day.
"Although we have proven a site in Southwark is not needed, Thames Water continue to include us in their proposal despite the negative impact on thousands of residents and hundreds of nearby school children.
"We will fight this to the end as we know this to be the wrong solution."