Not so super sewer
By Ann Rosenberg
Thursday November 8, 2012
The real story with Thames Water’s ‘super sewer’ is the residents who face being re-homed like cats and dogs. The effect on their lives will be catastrophic especially if they have school age children. One of my neighbours is threatening not to leave, even though his block of flats may be demolished. The area around Carnwath Road is a close knit community and includes old people in poor health. It’s frightening and deeply distressing for them.
In many cases these are people who are trapped as they have no money to move away. They are being treated like cattle – as they are an inconvenience. The housing associations who own some blocks of flats were apparently in the dark when the announcement was made that Thames Water has offered to re-home people living very close to the site. The closest is a block of flats for the disabled. So the physical and mental anguish these people will suffer is enormous.
The other fact is that for Thames Water to make such an admission at this late stage is cause for grave concern. They are supposed to have done an impact assessment and they told everyone who expressed their concerns at the consultation sessions last spring that there would be nothing to worry about as they would ensure that noise and pollution levels would be minimal and within regulations. So they were economical with the truth and misled the public. This calls into question all their other assurances which now need close scrutiny. Frankly for a company of this size this is outrageous.
The other point is their sheer arrogance. They have a problem so they think they can solve it by throwing money at it. Our money! They really have to be taken to task on this.
Thames Water is a private utility company who need to be challenged now. The cost is escalating - currently £4.1billion - and they probably feel that they are too big to fail and the government will bail them out if they get into trouble as the whole project is underwritten by the Treasury. They are putting a levy of £80 a year on every Thames Water customer’s bill forever and will start taking money from their 11.5million customers in a couple of years time – for what? We will be paying for something that does not exist. The tunnel is not due to be completed until 2023. Many elderly customers will be paying for something they will not live to see in operation.
Thames Water will gain an asset which they will own – paid for by us taxpayers and the benefits will be paid to their shareholders. Also Thames Water paid no corporation tax last year, but paid out handsome dividends to their overseas shareholders.
The government must take some responsibility for supporting this scheme which is seriously flawed, and which should be shelved in order to investigate Green infrastructure which is a cheaper and more effecting solutions to London’s rain water runoff problem. It won’t disrupt communities either. Do you know that London’s annual average rainfall is just 27 inches? And we are being asked to foot the £12billion bill for this? The real cost of the tunnel is £12billion which includes maintenance and running costs. And Thames Water has refused to release information on the size of their carbon footprint. The tunnel is inflexible and cannot expand if necessary to account for climate change in this century which no one can predict!
It makes me sick to see this issue trivialised by some people – especially when they unquestioningly parrot Thames Water propaganda! Join residents who are fighting Thames Water's super sewer and learn about the cheaper, less disruptive and more environmentally friendly ways to may the river cleaner at www.cleanthames.org (opens new window).
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham