Environment groups in London are this week celebrating a High Court ruling to reject four judicial reviews by opponents of the Thames Tideway Tunnel. The decision clears the way for the project, which secured planning consent last October, to proceed.
Mr Justice Ouseley presided over the two-day hearing last week and refused applications from Southwark Council and the Thames Blue-Green Plan (Graham Stevens) for being out of time. The judge decided that the court had no jurisdiction to hear cases that had not been submitted in time and therefore their arguments would not be heard.
ThamesBank, now known as the Thames Blue-Green Partnership, which is supported by Lady Dido Berkeley, had its application refused on the basis that it was ‘irrelevant’ and relied on the suggested unlawful failure of the Examining Authority to hear evidence of alternative solutions during the planning process. The judge concluded that, given the clear direction contained in the National Wastewater policy statement, the Examining Authority was correct to conclude the submissions would be irrelevant and he therefore refused permission to launch a judicial review.
Finally, an individual, David Percival, made his own case for alternative solutions, particularly questioning the carbon obligations of the project, but he was told by the judge his case lacked a point of law and was therefore also refused.
Thames Tideway Tunnels have made no formal statement on the High Court ruling other than to state “We are pleased with the clarity provided by the court’s decisions.”
However, the environmental, recreational and amenity groups who make up the Thames Tunnel Now coalition welcomed the High Court decision to reject the judicial reviews which threatened to block or delay the project to clean up the tidal river in London.
Debbie Leach, Chief Executive of the Waterways charity Thames 21 and chair of Thames Tunnel Now said: This is great news for everyone – not only do we all depend on the water in our rivers and need to protect it whenever we can – this project means that we can look forward to a River Thames we can be truly proud of, that we can use and enjoy safely and with confidence, and where wildlife can thrive.”
“Carlo Laurenzi, Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust added: “The High Court has made the right decision for the River Thames and Londoners. We need a sewage system fit for the 21st century, a system that no longer fouls the Thames, damaging the river’s fragile ecosystem and threatening the health of all who use it.”
Ian Tokelove: 020 7803 4293
Debbie Leach: 07976 559778
Thames Tideway Tunnel
The Thames Tideway Tunnel project has been designed to run 25km along the River Thames between Acton and Abbey Mills and intercept 34 combined sewer overflows. It will divert surface water and sewage discharge to a wastewater treatment facility rather than allowing it to discharge directly into the river. A failure to tackle the sewage overflow into Thames after periods of heavy or intense rainfall would leave UK facing EU fines of up to £100 million a year. To help fund the construction of the super sewer, Thames Water has said that consumer water bills would increase by about £80 a year.
Thames Tunnel Now
In October 2011 a group of major environmental charities and amenity groups representing over 5 million people came together in a powerful coalition to support plans to construct the Thames Tideway Tunnel as the necessary and final part of infrastructure improvements needed to end the scandal of 39 million tonnes of untreated sewage entering the tidal river every year. Thames Tunnel Now partners include; RSPB, Angling Trust, Salmon & Trout Association, WWF, Thames21, The River Thames Society, Thames Anglers Conservancy, London Sustainability Exchange, Canoe England, Marine Conservation Society, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Rowers Against Thames Sewage and the London Wildlife Trust.
More info at http://www.thamestunnelnow.org/