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SYR condemns disgraceful tunnel decision

SYR condemns the government’s disgraceful decision to override its own planning inspectors by authorising the use of Chambers Wharf as a drive site for the Thames Tideway Tunnel. The inspectors agreed with SYR and LB Southwark that CW as a drive site was not justified due to adverse local impacts on residents and that alternatives should be looked at.

Ministers contradict themselves. They claim on the one hand that the residual impacts on the quality of life and health from noise “are less than significant” due to mitigation measures, but at the same time concede that noise and disturbance impacts weigh against consenting the development and that “the impacts at Chambers Wharf will be adverse and of long duration”. They then go on to give consent nonetheless. This is manifestly disingenuous, unjust and an insult to local residents who are being made sacrificial victims for the project when the inspectors, who actually heard the evidence, agreed that less impactful alternatives are available.

It does the credibility of the major infrastructure planning regime no good in the eyes of the public for proposals that were shown to be flawed in preparation, and then shown to be half-baked when tested at the Examination, to nonetheless be given consent by ministers with minimal regard for the impact on Londoners unfortunate enough to have to suffer for what is perceived as the wider good. Ministers have broken the faith by which people impacted by major projects could at least expect to be treated fairly and sympathetically, and given the green light to a company notorious for its corporate arrogance to do its worst to Londoners. This controversial project has just become significantly more controversial, a decision which will come to haunt politicians, officials, and Thames Water and its owners and potential investors.

Decisions on the tunnel: the key documents
The key documents on the tunnel decisions made by the Government are the decision letter by the Secretaries of State, and the main report from the Inspectors. You can read how the Planning Inspectors found for SYR’s and LB Southwark’s cases to reverse the direction of drive of the tunnel so that it would be driven from Abbey Mills instead, and why ministers have overruled them, on the link below. The sections of particular relevance to Chambers Wharf are:

Decision Letter: paras 67, 69, 74, 86, 108-112, 140, 144, 145, 148, 149

Inspectors’ report: section 12 on noise and disturbance, section 13 on socio-economic effects, section 14 on transport strategy, section 17 on site selection (main discussion on unsuitability of Chambers Wharf as a drive site, and potential suitability of Abbey Mills as a drive site instead at paras 17.142 to 17.293 )

http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/london/thames-tideway-tunnel/

12th September 2014

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