National Grid pauses work on tunnel site

underground machinery
Huge machines boring the main tunnel will produce many tons of spoil

National Grid has withdrawn a planning application for a site in Loughborough Junction that will be used in the construction of a massive tunnel under London to upgrade electricity supplies.

Work on digging a shaft to connect with and remove spoil from the tunnel is expected to last five years and produce major HGV traffic on small local roads.

Residents had demanded to know why the spoil could not be moved by rail – a railway line runs directly past the site.

Another such site at the junction of Acre Lane and King’s Avenue in Brixton is already operating.

National Grid said it had withdrawn the application for a “certificate of lawful development” for the Loughborough Junction site at Bengeworth Road after “engagement” with Lambeth council.

In February, local residents asked the council to intervene and to review the effect the work would have on local roads and homes.

Local councillor Jim Dickson has been working with residents on the issue.

In a letter to the local residents’ group, the Bengeworth Road Action Group, National Grid said: “We have taken this action following considerable engagement with Lambeth council, the purpose of which was to find a positive way forward that both ensured we deliver this vital infrastructure to keep the lights on in South London, but also put in place measures and mitigations to meet the concerns of local residents.”

National Grid said that withdrawing the application would give the company and the council “time to take a more comprehensive look at all the factors that have changed since our application last year and what should be in place to reflect these changes”.

Graphic showing the tunnel and its above-ground sites – two of them in Lambeth

National Grid said it will “work closely” with the council to “provide a transparent way forward that brings residents into the process”.

It said that construction work will not begin “in the short term” and sinking a new shaft will only proceed “once we have agreed the process with the council”.

Temporary work to set up accommodation, barriers, utility connections and to install “dewatering wells” in preparation for the shaft works when they take place will continue.

The letter said that while National Grid was having talks with the council, it would also provide revised reports for residents.

“Once this process is complete and we have agreed next steps with the council,” the letter said, “we will be able to come back to you with greater detail about the future phases of the project.”

It said a “community liaison group” (CLG) it had set up on its own initiative would be “paused”.

The residents’ campaign has said that a CLG event last December was attended by only five people due to lack of communication by National Grid and its agents.

The CLG will be restarted “as soon as we have clarity on what will be taking place in the future,” National Grid said.

Main works on site would not start “until we have held this CLG”.