A Greenwashed Disaster: Fewer Shafts BUT Thames Water’s Environmental Havoc CONTINUES

In response to pressure from locally elected officials and the community Save Our Lands and River (SOLAR) campaign, Thames Water announced this week that it has amended plans for the Teddington Direct River Abstraction scheme (TRDA) by removing four of its seven construction shafts between Mogden Sewage Works and Ham Lands from the proposed design. 

On the day before releasing its 2023/2024 annual report, which detailed £15bn of debt and a request to raise bills by 44%, Thames Water finally acknowledged the community’s response to the scheme in late 2023, by reducing the impact of construction on residents and recreational facilities.

TDRA’s proposed tunnel shafts at Ivybridge Retail Car Park, Moormead & Bandy Recreation Ground, Riverside Drive and Ham Lands have been withdrawn from the scheme.

However, Thames Water is proposing to increase the tunnel diameter from 1.8 metres to 3.5 metres in an attempt to continue releasing treated effluent into the River Thames. 

This would double the pipeline size along a renewed – but as yet unconfirmed – route from Mogden sewage works to Ham. 

In acknowledging these changes, Thames Water said they were ‘working hard to continually refine our design proposals’, and they had ‘made a commitment to listen and learn from feedback’.  Thames Water’s full statement is available here.  

‘St Margarets residents will be relieved to hear that the planned shaft at Moormead Park has been removed from the TDRA construction plans.  However, I know that residents will still have many concerns about the broader proposals, not least the impact on the environment and water quality.  I and councillors will continue to oppose these proposals on behalf of residents’.

Munira Wilson MP (Twickenham) on social media

“Despite welcome reductions in the number of shafts required in Thames Water’s Teddington Direct River Abstraction (TDRA) project, we remain firm in our opposition to the scheme”. 

Sarah Olney MP (Richmond Park) on social media

“The abstraction and discharge point opposite Burnell Avenue have not changed, and many residents will still have concerns over the impact the DRA will have on water quality and the local environment.  These plans are still not right for our community or the river.”

Gareth Roberts, Leader of the Council and member of the Greater London Assembly on social media

4 down, 3 to go

Whilst this announcement may be received positively in some local areas, the SOLAR campaign believes removing shafts is a distraction that Thames Water can use to show it has listened to residents’ feedback.  

The SOLAR campaign remains firm in its resolve to get this scheme cancelled because our objection concerns more than just the tunnel and shaft locations. 

We have shown in our recent environmental that this scheme is ecologically dangerous to the River Thames and its surroundings. It will impact wildlife and river ecology and is of serious concern to all recreational users of this beautiful natural resource.

The scheme is not future-proof. Thames Water is not removing dangerous micropollutants from the treated sewage, yet EU legislation now obliges water companies to build advanced water treatment facilities to remove these by 2045. The UK is expected to follow suit, and the TDRA scheme will become redundant.

Thames Water is also not removing dangerous bacterial and viral contaminants from the treated sewage. Residents are building a strong application for the Teddington Thames to achieve bathing water status in 2026, and when this happens, the TDRA scheme will not allow the removal of these contaminants because there is no capacity for this in the scheme.

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