Local MP Munira Wilson has reacted strongly following the news that the Office for Environmental Protection and regulators may have broken the law over how it has regulated sewage releases.
She said today: “The lack of proper scrutiny and transparency when it comes to dumping sewage into our precious waterways just beggars belief.
“In my own Twickenham constituency, residents have been fighting controversial proposals to pump millions of litres of treated sewage into the river at Teddington since January.
“We’ve questioned how people can be expected to trust the government and water companies given their record, and now the environment watchdog is questioning it, too.
“Enough is enough. This just adds more fuel to the fire that the Teddington proposals should be stopped in their tracks.”
On Wednesday 6 September, Twickenham MP Munira Wilson led a debate in Parliament to challenge the Minister for Environmental Quality and Resilience, Rebecca Pow, on Thames Water’s Teddington Direct River Abstraction (DRA) proposals.
In the debate last week Munira raised Thames Water’s abysmal record on leakage, which is at its highest rate for the past five years. Since 2019, Richmond Council has fined Thames Water £200,000 for overrunning roadworks and disruption caused by burst pipes in the local area.
“To quote the Environment Agency’s response to the proposal,” Munira said during the debate “Thames Water have so-far failed to show that the Teddington scheme is ‘feasible or
environmentally acceptable’. That is a pretty low baseline.”
In her response, Minister Rebecca Pow shed little light on the Government’s position on the scheme, mentioning Teddington just twice during her twelve-minute speech.
Thames Water plan to proceed with a further consultation period in October focused solely on the details of the Teddington scheme.
After the debate, Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham, said: “After the Minister repeatedly ignored our calls for a meeting to discuss Thames Water’s plan, this
debate was finally an opportunity to force the Government to listen to the extent of local people’s concerns.
“The Thames runs through the very heart of our community and has shaped our area for hundreds of years. It is no wonder that residents in Teddington, Twickenham, St Margarets and beyond are passionate about protecting it from a water company whose reputation is in the gutter.
“From lack of investment to leaky pipes, Thames Water are haemorrhaging public trust at the same rate as our water supply. Recent revelations about the construction impacts of the scheme on
beautiful local green spaces, such as Moormead Park and Ham Lands, only add fuel to the fire.
“This scheme is not worth the consequences for our river, our precious local environment and our vibrant community of river user groups.”
Thames Water says it will press ahead with their proposals to pump the River Thames with treated sewage in south west London, despite nearly 24,000 people signing a petition objecting to the scheme.
The crisis-stricken water company has submitted its revised draft plan to the Government, which addresses future water supply challenges, following a public consultation on the original documents between December 2022 and March 2023.
Thames Water’s proposals include taking water from the Thames above Teddington Weir and transferring it via an existing underground tunnel to the Lee Valley reservoirs, replacing it with treated wastewater from Mogden Sewage Treatment Works.
The scheme would provide up to 75 million litres of water a day during droughts and dry weather, but it would not be designed to run at these levels all year.
Opponents started a petition against the scheme in January, after the initial plan was published, and it has so far been signed by 23,953 people. The petition raises concerns about the scheme’s impact on fish, insect and plant life, the effects of construction and that fines imposed for breaches of regulations would not be enough to protect the river.