Many Fulham and Chelsea residents will have seen the welcome news in recent weeks of Boris Johnson declaring his opposition to the use of Carnwath Road, SW6, as the main drill site for Thames Water’s “Super Sewer” and his call for a “re-think” of the whole project and his announcement of a full consultation.
The move comes after intensive lobbying by Greg Hands M.P. and Council Leaders in both Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea, Stephen Greenhalgh and Merrick Cockell. Greg Hands and Cllr. Nick Botterill led a delegation of Fulham residents to see the London Mayor in March (pictured). The delegation described at first hand the devastation that would be brought by the massive construction site running 24/7 for 6 years, flooding the community with noise and dust. The area is already badly congested and the project would see at least 29,000 extra HGVs on narrow residential roads, risking the safety of the 4,500 children who go to school within 1,500 metres of the site.
Boris told the delegation, as reported in a Greg Hands M.P. bulletin, "I will totally defend Carnwath Road and reject any damage to the quality of life of residents in Fulham."
Now, as reported in the Evening Standard last Friday (27th April), Boris has announced plans for a full consultation over the project, adding that he was “concerned over the rising cost” of the scheme as well as the disruption to Londoners living along the route.
The Standard reports that, depending on the result of his consultation, Mr Johnson could end up pressuring the Government and Thames Water to return to the drawing board despite years of work on the £4.1 billion project.
Meanwhile, Labour’s Ken Livingstone attacked Boris’s move, and made clear that Mr Livingstone would proceed with the scheme as it stands, including the main drill site in Fulham.
Boris told the Standard: “It is vital that we clean up the Thames and I am committed to support measures that achieve this. But I am increasingly concerned over the rising cost that it will impose on Londoners, already hard hit by the current economic climate, and also the severe disruption for many people in some parts of London. We need greater clarity on whether this is indeed the best scheme that could be devised.”
Greg Hands, M.P. for Chelsea and Fulham, told the Standard: “I strongly agree with Boris that we need to have a proper re-assessment of the Super Sewer. In February, I led a delegation of Fulham residents to see the Mayor, and they told him the devastation this project would bring, and it is a common sense approach to now assess whether the full £4.1 billion project is necessary and affordable.”
Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council, said: “We are delighted Boris has called for this additional consultation. The Super Sewer is a costly white elephant that will blight our riverside and disrupt the lives of millions of Londoners for years.”
A Thames Water spokesman told the Standard: “We will remain accountable to the Mayor, Ofwat, Defra and most importantly, our customers, on the cost of the scheme.”
Greg Hands M.P. added: “The best chance we now have to stop the Super Sewer coming to Fulham is to re-elect Boris Johnson on Thursday as London Mayor. Boris’s pledge is clear and strong – he wants a full consultation, is opposed to the project coming to Fulham, and says that there may need to be a re-think on the whole scheme. Fulham’s best hope is to vote Boris tomorrow.”