Green light for £4.2Bn Thames Tideway Tunnel


The Lee Tunnel (pictured) will connect with the Thames Tideway Tunnel. Photo courtesy of Thames Water

Thames Water has been given development consent by Government to build and operate the £4.2Bn Thames Tideway Tunnel – a 25km ‘super sewer’ set to tackle sewage pollution in the River Thames.


Construction of the tunnel is expected to start in 2016 and complete by 2023, directly creating more than 4000 jobs. The project will be built proposed using 24 construction sites across London, and will involve using six tunnel boring machines from five drive sites.


Once complete the tunnel will run underground from Acton storm tanks in West London and travel roughly beneath the river to Abbey Mills Pumping Station in East London, where it will connect to the existing Lee Tunnel. The sewage collected from the 34 most polluting discharge points along the river will then be taken via the Lee Tunnel to Beckton sewage works for treatment.


Last year, 55 million tonnes of sewage polluted the River Thames, far higher than the average 39 million tonnes that discharges in a typical year. This was due to the exceptionally wet weather, which caused the combined sewerage system that London has to fill up and pour into the river even more than normal.


Thames Tideway Tunnel chief executive Andy Mitchell said: “If the tunnel had been in operation last year, it would have captured 97% of the sewage that poured in to London’s river.”


Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “This is a challenging infrastructure project, but it is clear that the Thames Tunnel will help modernise London’s ageing Victorian sewerage system, and make the River Thames cleaner and safer.”


London First chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine said: “The system we have currently does not have the capacity to cope with the existing population, let alone support a city growing by 100,000 people a year.”


“An additional 600,000 properties will need to be built by 2030, and each of those homes will need at least one toilet – we need the Thames Tideway Tunnel.”