Super Sewer Development Consent Application Submitted

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As we reported last week, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, or super sewer, came one step nearer on February 28 when detailed construction plans developed by Thames Water were delivered to the Planning Inspectorate.

The Planning Inspectorate is the independent government agency responsible for operating the planning process for what are considered Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, or NSIPs.

Thame Water says following a decade of study and over two years of public consultation, it has officially submitted an application for Development Consent for the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

Members of the project team accompanied the 50,000-page document as it was delivered to the Planning Inspectorate on February 28.

The Inspectorate now has 28 days to decide if the application is valid before beginning the examination process.

If accepted, the Inspectorate will make the application available on their website and begin the formal examination process.

Thames Water says if the Inspectorate accepts the application is a valid one, it will appoint an Examining Authority of up to five inspectors to consider any matters arising. As part of this process, interested parties will be able to make representations.

A Preliminary Meeting, open to those who have registered an interest, is expected to take place in early September 2013. Chaired by the Inspectorate, this will determine how the examination will be carried out. This will include consideration of more detailed hearings on site specific matters, as well as project-wide issues.

Once the Planning Inspectorate has concluded its examination of the application, a recommendation on whether or not to grant approval (by issuing a Development Consent Order) will be submitted to Government ministers to make the final decision. This is expected in Autumn 2014.

If consent is granted, preparatory construction work on the project is scheduled to start in 2015, with main tunnelling due to begin in 2016. The target completion date is 2023.

Thames Water says the Thames Tideway Tunnel proposals require a number of construction sites, from Acton in the west to Abbey Mills Pumping Station in Stratford in the east. There the 15-mile tunnel, the deepest and longest ever constructed in the capital, would join up with the Lee Tunnel, already under construction.

Along with separate work also under way to expand the capacity of the five sewage treatment works on the tidal River Thames, the tunnels’ purpose is to tackle the 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage that currently overflows into tidal stretches of the river in a typical year, when the capital’s Victorian sewerage network fills to capacity, sometimes after just 2mm of rainfall.

The tunnels will convey the excess sewage for processing to stringent standards at Beckton Sewage Treatment Works, with green energy being generated from the resulting sludge, before the treated water is returned to the River Thames.

According to Thames Water, all three schemes are needed to ensure the UK meets the requirements of the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.


March 7, 2013