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Teddington Direct River Abstraction project

Volume 745: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2024

The petition of residents of the constituency of Twickenham in London

Declares extreme concern regarding Thames Water’s proposed scheme to build the Teddington Direct River Abstraction (DRA) project; notes that this would involve extracting up to 75 million litres of water from the River Thames in Teddington and replacing it with treated effluent from Mogden Sewage Treatment works; further notes that this project would involve the construction of tunnels and shafts starting in Isleworth and passing through Twickenham and Ham; further declares the potential risks this presents to local areas, both in terms of the impact on human health, the environment and biodiversity, and in terms of the disruption caused by construction in residential areas, as well as in nature areas in Moormead Park and Ham Lands; further notes the opposition conveyed by local community groups and residents; further declares concern that feedback submitted through Thames Water’s initial public consultations has not been adequately reflected in Thames Water’s response so far; and further declares that more viable alternatives to the Teddington DRA, with broader public support, have been discarded.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons ask the Government to remove the Teddington DRA as an option in the Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP), which is currently under review by DEFRA.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Munira Wilson, Official Report, 12 December 2023; Vol. 742, c. 867.]

[P002888]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Steve Barclay):

Thank you very much for sharing your petition with me, as Secretary of State at DEFRA. We appreciate the concerns of local residents in Twickenham, which is why on 19 December 2023, DEFRA Minister Robbie Moore met with Munira Wilson and Sarah Olney to discuss the Teddington Direct River Abstraction (DRA) scheme proposed by Thames Water. I would like to reassure local residents that a full environmental impact assessment will be undertaken—to cover both construction and the future operations of the scheme—before development consent is granted. The Environment Agency is also a statutory consultee, and will ensure that any development complies with environmental requirements and appropriate mitigation is taken.

As set out in our plan for water, there is a need for water industry action to improve resilience of water supplies to drought and respond to future challenges including population growth, climate change, and to protect the environment. Water companies must act now to tackle these challenges.

The need for new water resources infrastructure is determined through the statutory water resources planning process. Water companies must consider a wide range of new supply and demand management options to evaluate how best to secure future water supplies as part of their analysis to inform their plans, which are consulted on. DEFRA, supported by the Environment Agency and other water regulators, is currently assessing whether Thames Water’s plan meets the water company’s obligations before Thames Water can finalise its plan.

The design and specific location of the Teddington DRA and its associated infrastructure is being developed by Thames Water, and the construction and operational impacts have not yet been fully defined. The investigation into the feasibility of this scheme, along with other strategic water resources schemes across the country, is being supported by RAPID—Regulators Alliance for Progressing Infrastructure Development—which is a partnership made up of the three water regulators: the Environment Agency, Ofwat and the Drinking Water Inspectorate.

The Teddington DRA scheme has been granted a direction under the Planning Act 2008 to appoint it a nationally significant infrastructure project. Therefore, for Teddington DRA to proceed, Thames Water will still need to apply for and be granted development consent, as well as obtaining the relevant environmental permits. As I previously mentioned, an environmental impact assessment will be required to support a decision on development consent and the Environment Agency will scrutinise the proposals to ensure it is acceptable from an environmental perspective.