Analysis of new data from the Environment Agency, obtained under Freedom of Information Act, shows that the river Thames already complies with the European Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD).
The data also shows that there appears to be no significant adverse impact on the Environment Agency’s Health and Aesthetic requirements for the tidal Thames.
So says a new report by Prof Chris Binnie "A Review of Tideway spills and their environmental impact". This states that the completion of sewerage treatment work upgrades in the area means the requirement for no significant adverse environmental impact from the combined sewer overflows and thus the UWWTD conditions are now met.
"I foresee some frantic arguments from Thames Water and their supporters demonstrating that, however clean the Thames is, the Tideway Tunnel is necessary because it had been agreed years ago."
The report adds: "The completion of the Lee Tunnel in late 2015 and, if thought appropriate, the floating booms, will improve conditions further" and states that where booms are possible, they would collect 70% of solids by volume, with the remainder collected by litter collectors.
So there now appears to be no good reason at all to go ahead now with the Thames Tideway Tunnel to meet the requirements of the UWWTD.
Cancellation of this costly Tunnel project, £4.5bn at current prices plus financing, operating and maintenance costs will save some £5M, Thames Water households having to pay, on its own estimate, an extra £80 per annum for the foreseeable future and would avoid a likely contingent liability on the taxpayer of several billion pounds, which would be much better spent on saving the NHS!
It is extraordinary that the Environment Agency has apparently held on to the data on dissolved oxygen in the Thames for so long. It should not need persistent FOI requests to provide what should surely be available in the public domain.
I foresee some frantic arguments from Thames Water and its supporters demonstrating that, however clean the Thames is, the Tideway Tunnel is necessary because it had been agreed years ago.
But with so much money at stake, surely Government and industry should always look at latest information and consider not only the extensive disturbance that the works will cause in London, the costs to households and business, and the likely contingent liability on the Treasury if things go wrong, as they sometimes do in tunnelling.
I have written to Lord De Mauley, Minister of State at DEFRA, urging the Government to stop any further expenditure on this project, and make Thames Water customers, as well as the thousands of people affected by the works, happy!