I have, like many Londoners, been tracking the plans to build a super sewer to update the Bazalgette Victorian sewage system and create a resilient system for the future of this great capital City. Thames Tideway working with Thames Water and numerous local authorities, including the City of London, and the PLA have completed the actual tunnelling and there is a lot to shout about as we await the final completion and opening in 2025. The project is to build 25 kilometres of tunnelling to intercept, store and transfer sewage waste away from the regular dumping that happens direct into the River Thames.
The tunnel runs from Acton to Beckton and about the mid-point is Blackfriars in the City of London. I was invited to visit the site and took colleague, Juna Margariti, with me from the Livery Climate Action Group. The site is largely behind hoardings, but elements are visible from the road, Blackfriars Bridge and the River. Roger Bailey, the Chief Technical Officer, took us around with his colleagues. What is special about Blackfriars is that it is at the confluence of the Rivers Fleet and Thames and is creating a new element of the Embankment that will provide public realm and green open space for the use of all visitors.
The tunnel is an engineering feat of that there is no doubt. Roger’s explanations of the issues to be overcome at Blackfriars were impressive. Not least, the decision to float an element of the superstructure into place and thus avoid the risk of cracking two major gas mains - a true feat of ingenuity.
I was most impressed with the sustainability credentials of the project and annex their Sustainability Report 2022. https://www.tideway.london/media/5689/tideway-sustainability-report-2022.pdf Aligning the project to the Sustainable Development Goals and measuring the impact in terms of carbon, health and safety, people and economy as well as community investment shows commitment. This project was funded by a sustainable finance framework and followed the International Capital Markets Association Green Bond Principles. The first green bond was issued in 2017 with a further seven following. The London Stock Exchange has moved the bond series to the LSEG Green Segment, confirming that they are accepted as part of the Sustainable Bond Market.
As we see the need to improve our infrastructure in order to meet the pledge to net zero and the need to bolster our economy through green and clean growth , this project is an example on our doorstep of just what can be done. At the same time the views from the new public realm will be exceptional atop the new Bazalgette Embankment.