Residents Protest at Mogden
Residents say " We're No April Fools!"
Inside the plant officers of Hounslow and Richmond councils, senior Thames Water staff and a very small number of residents invited by Thames were holding a meeting of the "Mogden Residents' Liaison Group".
The demonstration was organised by the Mogden Residents' Action Group (MRAG) with the assistance of the Independent Community Group (ICG) and was attended amongst others by delegates from Ivybridge, the Worton estate, Twickenham and Hounslow South.
Richard Aylard, Thames Water's Envronment & External Affairs Director at the plant, was greeted with banners reading "Thames Water Conned LBH's Planning Committee, But We're No April Fools" when he came out to engage angry protestors. Hounslow's Sustainable Development Committee had caved in to pressure from Thames and its own planning officers after Mr. Aylard had informed members present that the regulator OFWAT would not permit Thames to invest its own resources to cover the storm tanks at the plant, a necessary pre-condition for odour reduction.
Earlier in the day around 6,000 leaflets had been distributed around Isleworth, Hounslow South and Twickenham drawing their attention to the decision.
Isleworth resident Steve Taylor, Secretary of MRAG, said: "It was a great turnout, especially considering we only announced the protest a few hours before the meeting. MRAG's email was inundated with hundreds of messages of support from residents who would have liked to attend but couldn't make it to the Mogden gates by 5pm due to the short notice. We had expected this as 5 o'clock is a difficult time for most.
"What came across to me quite clearly, whilst talking to residents, is that whilst Thames Water is guilty of failing to address the problems adequately over the last decade, residents fury is now being vented at Hounslow Council whose planning officers have now given the green light to permit Thames Water to double capacity of the site which will inevitibly increase odour substantially for the next 4 years. The last expansion programme failed miserably and the Environmental Agency did not give consent to treat the increased flow anticipated. If history repeats itself Hounslow's leadership will have turned its back on the people of Hounslow and Richmond."
ICG Organiser and Isleworth ward councillor Phil Andrews added: "We organised the demo at short notice to demonstrate the strength of local feeling to both Thames Water and the local authority. When Mr. Aylard came out from the meeting and offered to walk me around the site I asked him whether he was going to tell me that OFWAT would not allow Thames to spend its own funds on covering the storm tanks, and he replied that he wouldn't dream of doing so because it wasn't true. I asked him then why it was that he had made the same claim at the planning meeting at which his application was approved.
"Isleworth residents are not simply going to stand back and allow their lives to be destroyed by an unholy alliance of greedy bosses, unhelpful officers still serving a past regime and gullible politicians."
September 24, 2009