Thames Tunnel Threat to Homefield Rec

Park earmarked for massive engineering shaft

Representatives of the the Thames Tideway Strategy group revealed at last night's Chiswick Area Committee meeting that Homefield Recreation Ground had been identified as a possible site for a major engineering project.

The park has been earmarked for a shaft to be built which would be the entry point for the construction of a massive tunnel under the Thames. The size of the project is likely to mean that the open space would become a construction site for several years. This tunnel has been proposed as a result of the overflow of sewage into the Thames this August which led to the death of a massive number of fish.

The project involves the building of a 35km tunnel, 80m underground which would end the necessity to pump sewage into the Thames at times of heavy rainfall. Homefield Recreation Ground has been identified as the only piece of open ground suitably sited for the construction of the shaft.

The Thames Tideway Strategy is a three-year project set up to assess the environmental impact of sewage discharges into the River Thames during major storm conditions, and to identify, consider, and cost possible solutions to the issue. The strategic study is a joint initiative by Thames Water, the Environment Agency, DEFRA, Ofwat and the GLA. Their verbal presentation made no specific mention of the Homefield plans but a sharp eyed resident at the meeting spotted the reference to the park on the plans on the slide presentation and the group's spokesman confirmed this element of the scheme.

The Government has yet to make a decision on whether the scheme is to proceed. The total cost at today's prices would be £1.5 billion which it is widely thought that the Government would be unwilling to fund. The cost to Thames Water customers if they were asked to fund the project is estimated to be £40 per customer. Thames Water are asking for funding from the Government on the basis that the tunnel would serve 7 of the poorest boroughs in the country.

Map from presentation by Thames Tideway Strategy Group

November 11, 2004