Hardy campaigners braved howling gales and freezing temperatures on Thursday 21 November to urge Planning Inspectors to ‘save our Green’ from Thames Water’s ‘super sewer’ plans for Crossfields’ Green, Deptford.
More than 30 activists from Don’t Dump on Deptford’s Heart protested outside the second session of the Planning Inspectorate’s inquiry into the Thames Tideway Tunnel on Thursday 21 November, at the AHOY Centre, Deptford Green. And many took time to give evidence about the damage it will cause to the local community and fragile economy of the area.
Local companies and their representatives explained how the tunnel work would blight business, and choke the recovery of Deptford’s High Street, already struggling due to the recession.
And, Patricia Chantrey, Headteacher at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School, situated just a couple of metres from the Crossfields site, called for Thames Water to recognise her pupils’ need to play, exercise and learn outside rather than to be confined indoors. When quizzed by the Inspectors about alternatives for St Josephs’ children, she said there was no way of mitigating the impact, which would be particularly acute for those with breathing difficulties or special needs.
Pointing out that air quality on Deptford Church Street is already significantly worse than recommended European Union levels, the campaigners’ argued that the controversial 46 metre shaft should be sunk in the Thames rather than one of the few green lungs for the neighbourhood.
“On every criteria, building the shaft in the Thames is the superior option,” said campaigner Nick Williams. “With some rational planning Thames Water could not only construct their tunnel, but by transporting materials by river, they could also massively reduce the environmental damage that this and other local development will inflict.”
The alternative, proposed by Thames Water, is for spoil from the shaft and tunnelling work to be removed from site by up to 32 Heavy Goods Vehicles a day, forcing the closure of the whole of the western carriageway of Deptford Church Street. With several major construction projects already in prospect locally at the same time, HGV traffic is set to dramatically increase, raising road safety fears as well as concerns about noise and pollution.
“Thames Water argues that because there is already noise and pollution in the area, we will not be troubled by more”, said Williams. “It is totally unacceptable, particularly when perfectly viable alternatives exist”.
The Planning Inspectorate, which has the power to recommend to the Secretary of State whether the £4.2 billion project goes ahead or not, will publish their decision in late summer/early autumn 2014.