Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss have published their decision to make an Order granting development consent for the Thames Tideway Tunnel to be built and operated.
The Secretaries of State have decided that on balance there is a good case for making an Order granting development consent for the proposed development.
The tunnel will run from the Acton Storm Tanks in West London to the Abbey Mills pumping station in East London, with a storage capacity of 1,250,000 cubic metres.
Construction is expected to start in 2016 and be completed by 2023.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “This is a challenging infrastructure project, but it is clear that the Thames Tunnel will help modernise London’s ageing Victorian sewerage system, and make the River Thames cleaner and safer.”
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “In the 21st century, London should not have a river that is polluted by sewage every time there is heavy rainfall.
“The Thames Tunnel is considered to be the best solution to address London’s outdated sewerage infrastructure.”
Hammersmith & Fulham Council has reacted furiously to the approval. It means Carnwath Wharf will be used construction site for the “Super Sewer”, which, they say, will, unnecessarily blight the lives of tens of thousands of people, as the site could be located over the river in Barn Elms, as was originally envisaged.
Cllr Stephen Cowan, the Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said: “This is a disgraceful decision by the Government which effectively says that a piece of park land is more important than a community where thousands of people live.
“The park would have been restored after construction was completed, but using Carnwath Road will cause human misery to thousands of people for years to come.”
The construction site, which will be the size of four football pitches, is needed to create a major drilling entrance for the 15-mile tunnel.
The council also says that the loss of potential new homes, jobs and community facilities at Carnwath Road and surrounding area will be damaging to the plans for new housing in London, whereas no new housing can be provided at the protected open space at Barn Elms.
Wandsworth Council’s opinion contrasts with that of Hammersmith & Fulham. In a statement which is enthusiastic about the benefits that the SUper Sewer will bring to the environment, Deputy council leader Jonathan Cook said: “Allowing raw sewerage to spill out into the Thames is completely unacceptable and we are pleased this ambitious project can now get underway.”
However, in contrast to H&F, he is happy that one of their open spaces has been spared during the construction process, saying: “It comes as a huge relief that the approved scheme has spared Barn Elms Playing Fields from being used as one of the main tunnelling sites.”
“There will be six construction sites in Wandsworth, more than any other borough, and we will work with Thames Water to ensure the impacts on neighbouring communities and our road network are carefully managed and controlled.
“The council’s Work Match local recruitment team is already in talks with TTT to deliver a major local employment and training programme linked to the project which will provide work placements, apprenticeships and job opportunities for Wandsworth residents.”
As a long-standing supporter of the project, London First welcomed the news as good for London and for the UK’s growing reputation as a stable environment in which to plan and deliver major infrastructure projects.