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Trade union and business groups back Thames Tunnel

The Trades Union Congress and business group London first have backed the Thames Tunnel, saying it is necessary and will be a huge boost for the capital’s economy.

The Thames Tunnel is a major new sewer proposed by Thames Water, which says is required to help tackle growing levels of untreated sewage discharged to the River Thames,

'Why does London's economy need the Thames Tunnel?', a Thames Water report, supported by business organisation 'London First' and the TUC, was launched at the House of Commons on 20 March.

The report says the proposed tunnel is expected to directly create over 4,000 jobs at the peak of its planned seven-year construction phase, and a further 5,000 indirectly. Main construction is due to begin in 2016.

Currently over 400 people are working on developing the detailed proposals for the project, including engineers involved in site investigation work along the tunnel's proposed route.

Whilst ministers have yet to decide who will finance and deliver the project, the Thames Water-led team developing wants to set contractors a minimum 20 per cent threshold for the use of local labour, a target being met on the Lee Tunnel, which is already under construction in east London to tackle flows from the capital’s single biggest combined sewer overflow at Abbey Mills in Stratford.

This would be accompanied by stipulations on the number of apprenticeships to be offered and use of the local supply chain.

David Leam, Executive Director Policy at London First, said: ''For London to continue to compete on the world stage it needs world-class infrastructure. The Thames Tunnel will not only help clean up the capital’s river, but will also contribute to the city’s economic growth and prosperity. Bringing thousands of employment opportunities, it will ensure the capital’s sewerage system meets the demands of 21st Century London.''

Frances O’Grady, Deputy General Secretary of the TUC, said: ''The new tunnel would be a shot in the arm for our economy and create thousands of decent jobs when we need them most. There are real gains to be made, not just in terms of the 4,000 direct new jobs and apprenticeships created in construction, engineering and maintenance, but thousands more in the supply chain. And a cleaner, greener Thames will help create employment in leisure and tourism too. The TUC is determined to see local people benefit from skilled, unionised jobs that pay a decent wage.''

Source: Thames Water
Photo: Peter Pearson

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