Planning Inspectors told of years of super sewer misery

On Wednesday Planning Inspectors were told how Deptford residents will suffer three years and a half years of misery if Thames Water’s plans to sink a shaft on Crossfields’ Green for London’s so-called ‘super sewer’ goes ahead.

Campaigners from Don’t Dump on Deptford’s Heart, together with Father Paul Butler of St Pauls Church, Deptford gave evidence to the first session of the Planning Inspectorate’s inquiry into the controversial Thames Tideway Tunnel on Wednesday 13 November, at the America Square Conference Centre.

The local residents were united in their calls for the shaft to be sunk instead in the Thames at Borthwick Wharf, as originally proposed by Thames Water.

The Planning Inspectorate has the power to recommend to the Secretary of State whether the £4.2 billion project goes ahead or not. Their decision is expected in late summer/early autumn 2014.

The campaigners concerns centre on the Deptford spur of the tunnel. Thames Water plan to sink a shaft on the green space between St Paul’s Church and St Joseph’s primary school. It will be some 46 meters deep and 17 meters in diameter. Spoil from the shaft and tunnelling work will be removed from site by hundreds of lorries, forcing the closure of the whole of the western carriageway of Deptford Church Street.

Local campaigner Joe Dromey told the Inspectors how turning Crossfields Green into a construction site would deeply affect the community, particularly school children. “Crossfields Green is one of the few leafy open spaces in Deptford”, he said. “It is right next to St Joseph’s and Tidemill schools, St Paul’s church, the High Street and hundreds of flats and houses, precisely the kind of areas that Thames Water’s own Site Selection Methodology says they would avoid.”

Crossfields estate resident, Nick Williams, added: “In recent weeks Thames Water’s site investigation work in Deptford Church Street has given us a glimpse of what’s to come, with heavy congestion and increased rat-running. The chief difference is that instead of lasting three weeks, the Thames Tunnel work will last for more than three years.”

Aside from the concern that the works will cause noise and disruption to pupils, worshippers, residents and businesses, the campaigners are angry that an alternative site at Borthwick Wharf has been ruled out. The reasons for Thames Water’s switch remain unclear.

“Thames Water boast that transporting building materials by river is a priority,” explains Dromey, “but they opted for landlocked Deptford Church Street site over Borthwick Wharf which is on the riverfront. It’s a massive abandonment of their environmental principles and it robs the community of one of the few open spaces in the area.”

Over 800 people signed a petition against Thames Water’s plans and the Don’t Dump on Deptford’s Heart campaigners are calling for a big turnout at the next inquiry hearing which will be at 9am on Thursday 21 November at The AHOY Centre, Borthwick Street, Deptford, SE8 3JY.

They will lobby the Inspectors and are urging local people to attend to tell the Inspectors how they feel.

The Planning Inspectorate decision is expected in late summer/early autumn 2014.

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