The Thames Tunnel is a major water infrastructure project which is proposed by Thames Water to upgrade London's inadequate sewerage and rainwater over flow needs. It is still in the infrastructure assessment and site selection stage; but properties within 500m either side of the River Thames between Hammersmith and Beckton may be affected by works to sink tunnels and shaft sites for the Thames Tunnel. Landowners whose land and interests may be affected by the project should take action now, as once the project is fully consented the legal options to minimise the adverse impacts on affected land interests will be limited.

WHAT IS THE THAMES TUNNEL?

The Thames Tunnel is a government backed project proposed by Thames Water to meet London's inadequate sewerage over flow needs. It will comprise an underground storage reservoir in the form of a tunnel beneath the River Thames running from Hammersmith to Beckton that will capture most of the overflow sewerage which currently discharges directly into the Thames during heavy rain.

WHEN WILL IT BE BUILT?

The Thames Tunnel received government backing in March 2007 but the details of the project are still in their early stages. The design, development and site selection phase is underway and is scheduled to complete in 2010. Thames Water will then submit its application for development consent for the Thames Tunnel in 2011. The target date for the granting of the development consent is 2012. Construction work is not timetabled to start until 2013 following the procurement of the main construction packages and the site investigations and enabling works. Completion of the project is estimated for 2020.

WILL MY PROPERTY BE AFFECTED?

Although the exact details have not been finalised, properties 500m either side of the stretch between Hammersmith and Beckton could be affected either during construction or permanently if they are selected for main or intermediate shaft sites. Thames Water are currently looking for sites to locate up to 6 main shafts to provide permanent access to the tunnel and worksites near 34 existing sewer overflows, which will be utilised to channel the sewerage overflow into the Thames Tunnel. There is little information available as to how the sites will be selected, but the worksites are intended to be close to existing sewers. For further information on the potential location of sites, go to:

http://www.thameswater.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/SID-A4C51877-5D65664D/corp/hs.xsl/8129.htm

WHAT ACTION CAN I TAKE TO PROTECT MY INTERESTS?

Thames Water is consulting on the draft route of the Thames Tunnel and the draft site selection methodology. Landowners who may be affected may wish to make representations during this consultation process. Once the route is finalised an application will be submitted to the new Infrastructure Planning Commission for a development consent. If consent is granted, Thames Water will be able to exercise its powers of compulsory purchase to secure the land it needs for the tunnel and worksites to deliver the project. It would be prudent for landowners potentially affected by this project to seek legal advice and make representations.