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Thames Water’s ‘super sewer’ exhibition draws a crowd

Dozens of local residents visited a three-day exhibition at the Beormund Community Centre to learn how Thames Water's proposed 'super sewer' will affect Bermondsey.

We reported last week on the launch of Thames Water's latest round of consultation on plans for a tunnel to carry untreated sewage that currently flows into London's river.

The two Southwark sites identified in Thames Water's initial consultation – Alfred Salter Playground in Druid Street and King's Stairs Gardens in Rotherhithe – have both been superceded by new 'preferred sites' in the current round of consultation.

At Shad Thames Pumping Station in Maguire Street the water company now proposes 18 months of work to install new pumps to reduce the amount of sewage discharged into the Thames from local sewers.

A few hundred metres to the east, at Chambers Wharf, the company has prompted controversy with its proposal to use the site for six years as a main tunnel drive and reception site.

The Save Your Riverside campaign says that nearly 90 people attended last week's public meeting at Riverside Primary School. The campaigners claim that years of construction work will prove dangerous and disruptive for pupils at three nearby schools and will affect the quality of life of nearby residents.

The meeting was addressed by Cllr Peter John, Labour leader of Southwark Council, and Liberal Democrat councillors for Riverside ward Anood Al-Samerai and Eliza Mann.

All supported the principle of cleaning up the Thames. Cllr John spoke about the findings of the Selborne commission – part-sponsored by Southwark Council – which had found that similar benefits could be achieved with a shorter tunnel which wouldn't affect Southwark.

"I cannot and I will not stand by and let these works go ahead without putting up some pretty fierce resistance," said the council leader.

"I don't think we should let the intransigence of either the Government or Thames Water jeopardise the prospects of children at this school or in this area.

"My rallying cry is that we must all do all that we can to protect Riverside School, to protect the residents of this area and to protect the environment of this borough.

"We must all say 'no' to Thames Water and their current proposals."

Blackfriars Bridge foreshore

Further upstream from Bermondsey, Thames Water's proposal for work at Blackfriars – where the sewer that follows the course of the old River Fleet flows into the river – will affect views from the South Bank and Bankside.

The company is now proposing to relocate Blackfriars Millennium Pier from the western side of the road and rail bridges to the east, closer to the Millennium Bridge.

HMS President, moored on Victoria Embankment, will also need to be moved for the duration of the works.

Albert Embankment foreshore

Thames Water's proposals will affect the foreshore at Vauxhall Bridge. The Thames Path will be diverted via the inland side of the MI6 building. The water company says that it will maintain access for London Duck Tours via Lacks Dock. The company's amphibious vehicles use the slipway alongside the MI6 headquarters.

If you missed last week's exhibition the Thames Water roadshow returns to Southwark twice: it will be at Surrey Docks Watersports Centre in mid-December and City Hall in mid-January. Comprehensive documentation is available at www.thamestunnelconsultation.co.uk

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