Thames Water has launched a 14-week public consultation on plans for the proposed Thames Tunnel, which aims to reduce sewage discharges into the River Thames.
The tunnel will run up to 20 miles from its starting point in west London, and will broadly follow the route of the river at a depth of up to 75 metres, to the east of Tower Bridge before going one of three ways:
- north east to connect to the Lee Tunnel at Abbey Mills in Stratford - the shortest of the proposed routes;
- east following the river and crossing the Greenwich peninsular up to Beckton Sewage Works in Newham; or
- south east, straight to Greenwich and then on to Beckton.
Public exhibitions will be held across London from 27 September until 22 October 2010 so that interested parties can understand and influence the development of the project, and have their say on the preferred route and construction sites.
London's sewer network was built in 1850, since when the capital has trebled in size. Overflows, originally designed only for exception storm events, now spill sewage into the River Thames after just 2mm of rainfall.
Martin Baggs, Thames Water's chief executive, said: "Allowing sewage to continue to overflow into the river at the current frequency is unacceptable. This causes significant environmental damage - killing fish, polluting the river for those who wish to use and enjoy it and affecting the wellbeing of our capital.
"We have got a plan to tackle this problem and have already started work on the £635m four-mile Lee Tunnel in east London and our £675m upgrades at London's five major sewage works.
"The proposed Thames Tunnel is the final and most challenging piece of the overall plan. The new coalition Government has told us it wants us to press forward with the tunnel, which is the most appropriate and cost-efficient way of tackling the big and growing problem of sewage entering the River Thames.
"We have done extensive studies to develop options for the tunnel route, which includes a solution that minimises the number of construction sites needed to build it, reducing disruption for London. It is now time for everyone to review these plans and tell us what they think. We haven't got all the answers but through this consultation and speaking to people with local knowledge, we aim to get them."