A ROW over planning permission is threatening to delay the start of tunnelling on part of the London section of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link by six months.
Islington Council has threatened to block planning approval for water main and sewer stabilisation work in Caledonian Road, just above alignments for the CTRL's running tunnels.
It claims CTRL client and project manager Rail Link Engineering (RLE) has changed the scope of work needed to relocate two high pressure water mains and a trunk sewer which run under Caledonian Road. It has also accused RLE of failing to justify the change.
If Islington blocks the planning application, RLE can resort to an appeal process set out under the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act. An appeal would take six months.
The council said the work, which involves closing one lane of Caledonian Road, is expected to take 15 months rather than three as originally proposed.
Under the terms of an agreement between the government and CTRL's promoters, RLE must 'take all reasonable steps to ensure that the overall environmental effect of the work is not materially worse than that assessed in the [local] environmental statement.' These are known as the 'not environmentally worse than' (NEWT) provisions.
Local residents and the council have complained that current proposals are worse than originally set out in the local environmental statement. They claim disruption will damage local businesses and shops (NCE last week).
RLE claimed that restrictions imposed by water main and sewer owner Thames Water forced it to change its plans. It argued that it had not breached the NEWT provisions because they do not apply when a third party brings about a change in the work needed.
But Islington Council rejected the argument, claiming that RLE failed to provide evidence that it was forced to change its plans by Thames Water.
'From the information we have been given it is definitely worse for the environment than we expected it to be, ' said council senior planner Dougal List, 'but we do not have enough information.'
As a result the council has threatened to block the planning application unless RLE provides an assessment of the new plans against the NEWT criteria. It has also demanded supporting documentation for the different options that Thames Water and RLE discussed.