The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a development project to build a 25km long super sewer underneath the River Thames. Once the project is completed it will prevent tens of millions of tonnes of sewage entering the River Thames every year, greatly improving the water quality in the river for people and the environment. The project includes 13 in-river construction sites that support the creation of the main sewer tunnel.
The MMO regulates work within tidal rivers so work at the in-river sites falls within the MMO’s licensing remit. Given the large number of marine consents that are required for this project (over 200 so far), we are working closely with the project team to ensure that our marine licensing keeps up to pace with the project’s progress.
We are always looking for ways to work more efficiently with our applicants and this project was the first of its kind for the MMO Marine Licensing team. We established a dedicated team of staff embedded within the Tideway offices in London. They travelled between Newcastle and London to work closely with the Tideway consenting teams on the project. Due to the current restrictions they also use state of the art video conferencing facilities to ensure that when they can’t be in London, they can stay in touch with the project. When working in London, the team worked out of the Tideway site offices to ensure that they have a first hand understanding of the works taking place.
This close working has meant that the team have an excellent understanding of the works taking place on each site and of the challenges each site is working under. It also means that the team are best placed to respond to challenges as they arise at each site. This has proven vital throughout the consenting process to resolve problems and innovate solutions.
What are our successes?
This way of working has been adopted by other regulators on the project. During a recent lessons-learnt meeting on the consenting process many regulators fed back that this closer way of working had made the consenting process smoother, and allowed them a better understanding of the works required.
For the MMO team themselves, this way of working provides them with a detailed insight into the whole construction process from consenting, issue resolution, construction and through to completion. They get to see the final results of the consents they have worked on during construction and being opened to the public.
For both the Tideway and MMO teams there have also been numerous learning opportunities. It is important for both teams to understand the constraints of the other. Working in close proximity and always with the same people, has enabled the development of this knowledge for all involved.