Background

 
If Chambers Wharf is finally selected as the actual construction site in Southwark, hundreds of residents living in any of the 150 directly adjacent flats face sleep deprivation whilst works go on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for three years out of the seven. Thousands of other residents living on site access routes, including those of the Dickens Estate, one of London’s biggest, will also endure hundreds of weekly HGV movements whilst the nights of residents of the nearby barges will be turned into nightmares while 24/7 soil removal via the river goes on. After the main construction St James, part of Berkeley Group will build residential flats taking a further three years. Chambers Wharf will in effect be a construction site from 2016 – 2026.

Jose Lewis, co-head teacher at Riverside Primary School (RPS) said: “We are extremely worried about all the risks that having such a massive industrial site mere yards away from the school presents. Aside from the obvious threat posed to schoolchildren by up to 50 heavy lorry movements on a daily basis, we’re also concerned about the general degradation of the environment for everyone, including severe dust and noise pollution, which, Defra admits, under 25s are more sensitive to. RPS currently ranks as one of London’s top primary schools.”>

Councillor Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council and a supporter of the Selborne Commission, said: “As a riverside borough, we are absolutely committed to the aim of cleaning the Thames and preventing sewage leaks, but the Thames Tunnel plans appear unnecessarily disruptive and costly. Two sites in Southwark have been identified for possible main shafts. One is a park and the other is surrounded by housing and three schools. Neither is a suitable site for years of digging and earth moving.”

Because the Chambers Wharf site is too small for their purposes, Thames Water are planning to resort to a 50m “river infill” (boundaries shown in red), which could have drastic effects on the ecology and the tideway itself. The river infill means the site will wrap around two aspects of a residential dwelling, whose residents will have to endure 24/7 for at least three years out of a total of seven or more.

The Selborne Commission (part sponsored by Southwark Council) showed that no dangerous sewage overflow is produced in Southwark. Even Lewisham’s Earl pumping station can be remediated without the Super-Sewer and, after claiming it was impossible, Thames Water have recently “found a way” that the only Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) in Southwark (responsible for just 0.23% of the overall overflows) can be remediated without the need to connect it to the Super-Sewer.

There is no CSO to be intercepted in Southwark, yet the borough is to potentially host the largest construction site for the scheme, receiving a staggering 20% of London’s sewage overflows from Greenwich, only so they can be re-routed back to Beckton on a U-turn.

A shorter tunnel, which would save miles of useless, climate-change inducing concrete being poured under the River whilst tacking the CSO issue at under half the cost of the Super-Sewer is the way to go to clean the river. This shorter tunnel would completely avoid Southwark. Money should be set aside for other real threats, such as those of flooding, which TW admit, the Super-Sewer will do nothing to mitigate.

At a time where everyone, governments included, is having to seriously tighten their belts, it’s simply inconceivable that Thames Water customers will continue to be driven down a blind alley of footing the bill of £4.1bn – through a stealth tax for life (increased Water bills of at least £85 per year for life from 2013)– for a scheme that is so wasteful just so that a foreign investment bank’s profits and Thames Water’s profits can continue to balloon. Thames Water stand to make an extra £100m profit a year if the scheme goes ahead as proposed. We now hear that taxpayer money will also be used to underwrite the contingent liability for the scheme, for another as-yet undisclosed multi-billion pounds amount.

Local Area and Community

Chambers Wharf is a highly populated residential riverside site lying just east of Tower Bridge in the London Borough of Southwark. There are over 150 residences directly adjacent to the site (many within a mere 1 metre ) and there are two schools attended by over 1000 pupils within 30 metres and 50 metres from the edge of the site. In addition, it is a Thames riverside site, on the Thames Path route which is listed in all guide-books.

The community around Chambers Wharf were looking forward to the site being developed into one of the greenest residential sites in London with recreational facilities and the river walkway would have been extended from East Lane to Cherry Gardens. Now Thames Water is considering turning Chambers Wharf into an industrial zone destroying our local community.

  • Residents, pupils and local businesses will all be severely affected by the construction which will take at least seven years, three years of which will be 24 hours a day for 7 days a week.
  • During the construction there will be increased heavy vehicle traffic on the local roads, which are not only narrow but also where the schools are located posing a real danger to school children and local residents.
  • Construction so close to residents and schools for such a length of time would be a major source of air pollution possibly causing respiratory illnesses, asthma and bronchitis.
  • The whole riverside east of Tower Bridge will lose its appeal. Bermondsey Riverside could become, again, for the next ten years a depressed area, extending into Rotherhithe and beyond.
  • Once completed, the site will have sewage ventilation vents and Thames Water cannot guarantee there won’t be sewage smells.

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