On 16 January, Prof Chris Binnie and I met Lord de Mauley, Minister responsible for the Thames Tideway Tunnel. In a presentation (attached) Prof Binnie demonstrated that a combination of measures which have been shown to work elsewhere is highly likely to meet the requirements of the ECJ judgement and other legislation; the only questions are ‘how much of each measure is necessary and at what cost?’
He further demonstrated that the latest Report by the Environment Agency on SuDS had not only used out of date and inaccurate data but had not considered alternatives to Suds where these were more effective.
We noted that there is much less risk in such a combination of proven measures which can be introduced progressively and will achieve results as they are brought into service, compared with the Thames Tunnel, whose construction risks and costs are significantly higher and which will not achieve any result until it is fully complete and operational
That is why it is essential for an independent study to be undertaken, using the most up-to-date data, and considering the full range of combination of options where they are most cost-effective. The government’s RBPG state “The WFD requirement is to make judgements about the most cost effective combination of measures.” This study should be chaired by an independent person, in order to ensure a measure of confidence in the technical process underlying the solution(s). This has not so far been done. It must of course be completed before a decision is made to proceed with the Tunnel scheme.
From the evidence we have at present, the Thames Tideway Tunnel appears to be significantly more expensive and with a higher risk than a combination of alternatives, and seeks to provide unnecessary gold plating beyond a solution acceptable to the European Commission.
We await the Minister’s response.