Construction of west London “super sewer” creating a living “nightmare” for residents

By Owen Sheppard, Local Democracy Reporter

A Fulham man who lives beside a Tideway “super sewer” construction site says the project has made his life a “nightmare” for four years.

David McGinty and his neighbours claim they have been routinely disturbed by the traffic of giant barges and tugboats carrying concrete and rubble to and from the tunnelling site.

The £4 billion super sewer, now due for completion in 2025 due to Covid-19 delays, will create a network of tunnels from west to east London.

The increased capacity will stop the need to release overflows of untreated sewage into the Thames.

But residents of Carnwath Road, beside Wandsworth Bridge, and with views overlooking the Thames, say they have endured noise and intermittent rumbling of heavy vessels since 2016.

“They come seven-days-a-week at all hours of the day and night, even on bank holidays,” said Mr McGinty, 62.

“The boats will be revving with enormous engines and workers will be shouting to each other all the time.

“You can feel the vibrations from the barges in your stomach before you hear them. It’s a nightmare.

“It’s affected my physical and mental health very badly. I get so tired that I feel like I can’t function. I’m so anxious that any time I try and put my head down on the pillow I’ll hear the barges.”

He added: “I call this whole thing the turd runway, because that’s what it will be.”

Last year, Tideway said around 1.6 million tonnes of rubble and debris had been removed by the river from various construction sites, “saving 100,000 lorry trips”.

The barges are said to do 16 “movements” around the Fulham site per day, and can arrive at all hours of the night.

Mother-of-three, Teanne Kwade, 45, said: “The barges keep us up sometimes at 2am.

“They do U-turns and come right up to here. You can actually hear (the workers) talking when it’s late at night and everything else is dead quiet.”

A Tideway spokesman did not directly comment on barges journeying to and from the site at unsociable hours, but said: “Our teams are always reminded about being respectful to our neighbours.”

They also said tunnelling work at the Fulham site was due to finish “this week”.

Mr McGinty, a former tour guide, continued: “The destruction they have wreaked on my family life for years… there’s almost nothing they can do to repay it.”

There are 24 Tideway construction sites located between Acton in west London, and Beckton in the east, about 17 miles away.

Other local sites include Hammersmith Pumping Station, Putney Embankment and Chelsea Embankment.

A spokesperson for the Tideway project, run by Bazalgette Tunnel Limited, said: “We appreciate the significant size of our site at Carnwath Road.

“(It) has been a key location for the construction of London’s super sewer and our priority has always been to have direct contact with the local residents affected by our works.

“We hold regular open sessions for residents, and have done since 2015, as well as having a dedicated team working in the community and a 24-hour helpdesk.

“Our teams are always reminded about being respectful to our neighbours and our commitment to using the river for transport in Fulham has taken 25,000 lorries off local roads.

“Tunnelling from this location is due to complete this week, and while there is still a large amount of work to do, this will reduce the amount of waste materials being taken from the site.

“As with all of our works, we have an Independent Compensation Panel which looks at individual cases and advises on the best support for them.”

Pictured top: David McGinty says huge barges frequently pass his flat at all hours of the day, often waking him in the night (Picture: Owen Sheppard)

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