Teddington Direct River Abstraction - A vital drought resilience project for London

We’re proposing a new river abstraction on the River Thames close to Teddington Weir, supported by water recycling, to draw water from the river in times of drought.

Reducing leaks

Under our proposals, we’d transfer water abstracted from the river via an existing underground tunnel to the Lee Valley reservoirs. We’d then pump highly treated recycled water from Mogden sewage treatment works to compensate for the additional water taken from the river to protect the environment and wildlife.

As a drought resilience project, this will provide up to 75 million litres per day. It will only be used during periods of prolonged dry weather.

Map of the new river abstraction at Teddington View full image

We held a public consultation on the potential site options for the new structures, pipelines and shafts for the project between 17 October 2023 and 11 December 2023. You can find out more about the site options and our evaluation of them in our supporting documents.

Thank you for all the feedback we have received. We’re now reading and considering each response.

provide up to 75 million litres per day

Why do we need this project?

We need additional water resources from the early 2030s so that we can be confident we can provide a secure water supply to our customers during severe drought events. Working with WRSE, we’ve carried out further modelling and testing of our future water resources plans and have concluded that this project is the best value project to increase our drought resilience in London by the early 2030s.

Our proposals for the Teddington Direct River Abstraction project have been overseen by RAPID, a partnership made up of the three water regulators – Ofwat, the Environment Agency (EA) and the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI). RAPID have implemented a ‘gated’ regulatory process which includes regular checkpoints to make sure that all new strategic water supply options are considered in a fair and consistent way, with transparency, and that our customers’ money is spent wisely.

More information about RAPID and the gated process can be found here. You can also find the technical reports, additional information provided to RAPID, and feedback relating to the Teddington Direct River Abstraction project here. So far, we’ve completed initial assessments, including environmental and water quality monitoring. The results showed that the project presents a low risk to the environment, which can be mitigated.

We’re continuing to carry out more detailed assessments, working with the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Drinking Water Inspectorate and other key stakeholders. We’ll also need to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment to identify and assess the potential positive and negative impacts the project might have on the environment.

We're listening to concerns raised by local communities about the perceived public health and environmental impacts of the project.

We recently held a public consultation on potential site options for the proposed new pipeline route. This was our first site-specific consultation for this project and there will be other opportunities for you to share your views to help shape the proposals before we apply for consent to build.

Securing planning consent for the project

We have carefully considered how we should approach the planning and consent stages for the Teddington Direct River Abstraction project (the Project), bearing in mind the scale and amount of development that need to be consented, constructed and operated. We’ve also considered the timelines we need to meet, both through the regional plan and our own revised draft Water Resources Management Plan 2024 (WRMP), which lays the foundation for a wide range of solutions to plug the shortfall between the amount of water we have and the amount we need. In these plans, the Project needs to be operational by 2033.

There are two routes to obtaining planning consent, either through the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 or under the Planning Act 2008 and the Development Consent Order (DCO) process. Under the Planning Act 2008, a developer can seek a Section 35 Direction from the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to establish whether or not a project should be treated as being a development of national significance for which a DCO is required.

Thames Water submitted an application to the Secretary of State for a Section 35 Direction in relation to the Project in November 2023. Confirmation was subsequently received from the Secretary of State in December 2023 that the Project should be treated as a development of national significance for which a DCO is required.

Copies of the Request and the Decision can be downloaded from the Defra website here. More information is also available on the Planning Inspectorate website here.

The DCO process will allow opportunities for people to have their say on the Project before a final decision on whether to allow consent is made by the Secretary of State. Local and regional concerns will play a crucial role in the DCO application process, with opportunities for local authorities and community groups to participate at various stages, including pre-application, submission, examination and post-approval.

Before formally applying for a DCO, Thames Water must conduct public consultations and consider community feedback. The adequacy of these consultations is assessed by the Planning Inspectorate before the DCO application is accepted for examination.

Project timeline

Project timeline