Thames Water launches public consultations across Richmond borough
By Heather Nicholls
19th Nov 2023 | Local News
Private Water company Thames Water has been hosting a series of consultations across Richmond borough to Teddington Direct River Abstraction (TDRA) plan.
Nevil Muncaster, Strategic Partnerships Director at Thames Water, said: "Water is an essential resource to keep the city functioning and in London we supply around 2 billion litres every day, that's equivalent to 25 million baths.
"We need to plan ahead, to meet a growing demand and prepare for extreme heat, as seen in 2022 when temperatures reached record highs in the UK. That's why we're consulting on our drought resilience plans for London, including a proposed Teddington Direct River Abstraction project."
Thames is asking for feedback on the potential sites for the new structures, pipelines and shafts that it thinks would be needed for the project.
Nub News attended the Teddington consultation meeting for the TDRA; the next one is Monday 20 November at Kingston YMCA Hawker, KT2 5BH (2pm to 8pm).
A Thames Water Engagement officer commented there had been an "engaging" and "steady stream" of visitors at the pop-up consultation.
Responses to the consultation can be given either online or posted in a document provided until 11:59pm on 11 December 2023.
Afterwards the Independent Response Analyst company IPSOS will provide a report on resident feedback. Meanwhile Thames Water said it will be continuing its designs for the project.
Then, when the report is complete, Thames Water said it would take in consideration the residents' preferred route of the TDRA for the best of the community.
An engagement officer said the report would be "analysed" but could comment no further on how the feedback would be processed in the report.
Thames Water is encouraging the public to engage with them on which site option is best for the TDRA.
"As a region we want to get the right approach, whatever that is as the local plan," Dubois said. She emphasised the importance of having local input to help guide the company to put schemes in the right place. "People know things about the area that we don't," Dubois added.
Thames Water have indicated preference to submit its proposals as Nationally Strategic Infrastructure project process, where the government will discuss its ambitions.
However, the Secretary of State may decide it should go through standard local planning procedure, which is likely to face antagonistic forces from the council.
On 3 October Richmond Council unanimously voted to oppose the TDRA and call on the government to require Thames Water to re-examine more appropriate schemes.
Talking with nature
Residents and campaigners have raised concerns over the safety of the water, treated effluent, and the chemical which could impact the biodiversity and ecosystem of the Thames.
Thames Water is still waiting for an Environmental Impact Assessment to be conducted on the scheme.
Head of Engagement Leonie Dubois said while the environment is gathering data Thames Water will continue working alongside it. When the assessment is complete, Dubois added the company would "put the plan on top" of the TDRA scheme and see how to mitigate the factors.
Thames Water is continuing to revise its plans while in the process of gathering its own baseline data.
In March, the Environment Agency (EA) said in a report it "still has a number of reservations based on impact on the environment and viability in the long term".
Significantly, it stated: "Given that the Teddington Direct River Abstraction has not yet been shown to be feasible or environmentally acceptable, the company should ensure alternatives are progressed.
"Thames Water should ensure any options selected are resilient, reliable and do not cause any adverse environmental impacts."
Putting this to Dubois, she responded, "Thames Water is talking all the time to the EA as part of the regulating process" as part of an "ongoing discussion".
Local campaigners protest outside consultation hub
Leafletting opposite the consultation site in St Peter and Paul's Church, was Save Ham Lands and River campaign group.
Speaking against the TDRA, lead campaigner Ian McNuff said Thames Water's method as "all out of kilter".
He criticised the company for not having a social impact assessment, not publishing details of water quality and not having produced an environment report.
Campaigner Mike reported within the first two hours of speaking to the public, 50 people had signed the petition opposing the TDRA scheme.
The group's main points of contestation are:
- The environment and ecological impact on the River Thames by pumping treated sewage into it is unknown.
- TDRA will cause destruction to the natural land in Moormead Park, Ham and Kingston which are enjoyed by the community and visitors
- The construction impact from 4.5km worth of tunnel on neighbourhoods and buildings
McNuff said he would not be responding to the consultation.