Thames super-sewers project unwarranted, says Lord Selborne


Lord Selborne’s Thames Tunnel Commission made the announcement this week and said London’s sewage problem could be solved by a cheaper alternative.


By Katriona Ormiston

The Thames super-sewers project is unwarranted, Lord Selborne’s Thames Tunnel Commission (TTC) announced this week.

The report, set up as an independent body analysing the dispute, said London’s sewage problem could be solved by a cheaper greener alternative.

It effectively calls for Thames Water to abandon its multi-billion pound concrete tunnel project, for which planning permission is to be requested in 2012.

Lord Selborne, who commissioned the report, said: “Our forensic analysis shows there is a substantial body of evidence pointing to the fact that there is a smarter way to make the River Thames cleaner.”

The report concludes that a shorter tunnel combined with green infrastructure are better solutions.

These alternatives are said to comply with EU directives, to which the tunnel was partially designed to adhere.

The report says these alternatives would be cheaper and less disruptive to Londoners.

The Thames Tunnel is estimated to cost £3.6 billion and increase water-rates by at least £65 per year.

Lord Selborne added: “These alternatives require further study.”

Thames water deny Lord Selborne’s TTC report provides a viable, economic or timely alternative to tackle the problem.

Head of the Thames Tunnel project at Thames Water, Phil Stride, said: “Nothing in the report begins to suggest a workable alternative to the Thames Tunnel.”

He also added they do not meet health objectives and or fit with the government’s time-scale.

The report recommends Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) as part of the alternative.

Head of the Thames Tunnel project Phil Stride said Thames Water agree they have an important role to play but are not a simple, inexpensive or low impact option.

Yesterday a statement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for National Environment and Fisheries, Richard Benyon, confirmed governmental support for the super-sewers.

The TTC was launched by five councils concerned about the impact of the project.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council are particularly active in opposition.

A Hammersmith and Fulham Council spokesperson said: “what is really driving this project is profit for Thames Water shareholders rather than a wish to clean up the river.”

A 14-week consultation starts today on Thames Water’s revised plans for the proposed Thames Tunnel. To have your say visit

Related Articles