Thames Water scraps Teddington DRA construction shafts across the borough

By Oliver Monk

9th Jul 2024 | Local News

Thames Water has updated its Teddington DRA proposal following its public consultation in autumn 2023. (Photo: Thames Water)
Thames Water has updated its Teddington DRA proposal following its public consultation in autumn 2023. (Photo: Thames Water)

Thames Water has proposed new designs for its controversial Teddington Direct River Abstraction (DRA) project following backlash from last year's public consultation.

Among the changes are alternative construction methods 'to further reduce disruption for communities' in response to the feedback of over 2,300 locals.

The Teddington DRA scheme has been proposed by Thames Water as a way of preventing shortages during times of drought by siphoning off river water to the Lee Valley Reservoir and replacing it with up to 75 million litres – equivalent to 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools – of what the company describes as 'highly-treated effluent'.

Thames Water is proposing to use tunnel boring to dig the project's 'recycled water pipeline', which it says is 'a tried and tested method' used in other major infrastructure projects, including the Thames Tideway Tunnel. 

This will replace the use of 'pipejacking', a construction technique that would require digging a series of shafts in green spaces across west London and temporarily destroying around 17 acres of nature reserves.

While significant construction sites will still be required on open spaces across the area, these new plans mean the cancellation of the following shafts:

The company says the project will now only require a single shaft during construction, with Ham Street the preferred location out of the three being considered.

This also means the pipeline used to transfer 'recycled water' from Mogden Sewage Treatment Works will be increased from a diameter of 1.8 metres to a tunnel 3.5 metres across.

Over 2,300 residents responded to the project's consultation last year. 'We are grateful for their input,' says Thames Water. (Photo: Oliver Monk)

Recently re-elected Liberal Democrat MPs Munira Wilson for Twickenham and Sarah Olney for Richmond Park have been very public in their opposition to Thames Water's plans both on and off the campaign trail, and have wasted no time in responding to this latest update.

"Ham residents will be relieved to hear that Thames Water have just axed two of their planned construction sites for the Teddington DRA on Ham Lands. This is a great win for campaigners, but these changes do not go anywhere near far enough," announced Ms Olney.

She concluded: "These plans are still not right for our community or the river."

'We remain firm in our opposition to the scheme not least due to water quality concerns and to the continued impacts of [...] significant construction sites on valuable open spaces,' says Richmond Council. (Photo: Oliver Monk)

Meanwhile, her Twickenham colleague commented: "St Margarets residents will be relieved to hear that the planned shaft at Moormead Park has been removed from the TDRA construction plans."

"I and councillors will continue to oppose these proposals on behalf of residents," added Ms Wilson.

Leader of Richmond Council and London Assembly member Gareth Roberts also shared his views, announcing on the council's website: "Following the outcry from local residents, councillors and MPs, Thames Water have been forced to change their controversial plans, but as a council we remain hugely concerned about the impact both on the river itself and in Ham.  

"Thames Water needs to do far more to convince residents that this scheme represents the best solution to predicted future water shortages. 

"Until they do that, we will continue to oppose any scheme that we believe could harm the river and our land." 

Thames Water will be holding a series of community information events in autumn where residents can learn more about the scheme. More information is also available on their website here.


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