RATS (Residents Against Thames Sewer) protester Nicky Pateman continues her weekly column outlining the opposition's case against building part of the Thames Tunnel from a site in Carnwath Road, Fulham. This week she pays a visit to the Hurlingham Pub...
Those against the tunnel are being accused of nimbyism. But surely that is a criticism that should be levelled at people who selfishly protest for aesthetic reasons alone.
At Barn Elms, there are one million square metres of open fields, yet Thames Water is proposing to use just two per cent of that space. There is a polluting ‘combined sewer overflow’ point there, anyway, that will require three years of remedial construction, and the site will be in a corner of the land tucked away beside a brook and a screen of trees.
The Barnes argument is that Carnwath Road is a derelict industrial area. Why don’t they just walk down our streets or visit the Hurlingham pub and meet the thousands of families who have lived in this neighbourhood for several generations?
Take John Strudwick, who was born near Cassidy Road and has lived in the area for more than 60 years. He and his wife, Janet, have brought up three sons here and three days ago became grandparents for the first time to little Josh.
While they had hoped Josh would grow up here, they are worried about the pollution and increased traffic form the sewer site.
John’s friend, Simon Connor, was in the pub with his son David, 19, and friend George York, also 19, and these youngsters were as concerned as anyone about the effects of the tunnel. George believes people's homes and schools are of greater importance than some fields.
Unfortunately, the stark choice facing Thames Water is this: Temporarily disturb trees and flora, or protect the welfare of young Josh, his parents and grandparents and many thousands just like them.
Should they really be dismissed as nimbies?
Thames Water's Phil Stride blasts 'scaremongers'...
We are listening to the concerns of people living near all our proposed sites, including Barn Elms and Carnwath Road, and where possible we will adapt our plans accordingly.
Sadly, however, people’s concerns have been fuelled unnecessarily this week by what can only be described as ‘scaremongering’ claims that 92 houses will be compulsorily purchased if we identify Carnwath Road Riverside as a preferred site.
This suggestion is simply untrue. We have selected potential sites specifically to avoid the need to purchase or demolish any domestic properties.
I do understand people’s concerns about the letter and questionnaire we have been distributing but to be clear the questionnaire is to help us identify everybody with an ownership interest in buildings that might be affected by our works and who might therefore ultimately have a claim against us.
This is a new legal requirement for major projects and an addition to the general requirement to consult with people who could be affected by the development. If you doubt this, read section 44 of the Planning Act 2008.
We would not be meeting simple legal requirements if we did not seek to obtain information about the ownership of these buildings, including mortgage lenders, and regardless of whether we expect them to be affected by the works.
But whilst we have to ask the questions, page two of the letter makes it absolutely clear that owners have the right not to provide answers, and of course we respect that. What we don’t respect is those who should know better worrying people unnecessarily.