The proposed Thames Tunnel to reduce the amount of raw sewage being pumped into the River Thames in London has been backed by the Government.
Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said she supports Thames Water’s plan.
Spelman said: “A tunnel continues to offer by far the most cost effective solution to the unacceptable problem of raw sewage being regularly discharged into the Thames.”
Thames Water, the Environment Agency and Ofwat have looked at various options, with their proposed tunnel costing £3.6bn. However, Thames Water plans to make its customers pay for it through increased water charges of around £60-65 a year.
The main city sewage system, designed in the late 1800s, was built to allow for overflows when it rained heavily to avoid raw waste seeping into the street and into people’s homes.
But when the rain was very heavy, raw sewage would be discharged into the River Thames via “combined sewage overflows”.
Now sewage is being pumped into the river around once every week. In the coming years the sewage is likely to start overflowing when there is little rainfall, meaning the UK will be unlikely to be able to adhere to EU waste water-treatment regulations.