FURIOUS residents confronted Thames Water contractors yesterday over plans to build two sewage tanks in Queen Elizabeth Drive.
Contractor Optimise held a drop-in session at St Francis School to inform residents of plans which they say are to ease flood risk in the area and expand the network for future housing developments.
But residents are angry that the proposal, which in itself could create a flood risk as well as odours, is to be built so close to homes.
They say neither Thames Water nor Optimise has given sufficient reasons why the tanks cannot be located next to Mouldon Hill and very little genuine consultation has taken place.
Queen Elizabeth Drive resident David Parkinson, 50, said: “The whole consultation process has been an absolute sham.
“It was decided a long time ago that the tanks were going to be placed here.
“No one has listened to anything the residents have said at all.”
The first plan was put to residents last summer but, following the hostility, Thames Water staff said they would have another look at the proposal.
However, the only real change was to remove 6ft-high ventilation shafts, needed to release any gas, and place them at ground level.
David said: “For a lot of us the alteration of the ventilation is a big issue.
“Someone must have thought in the original plan they were needed so why have they been altered?
“I believe it’s so they now can avoid having to apply for planning permission.
“No one can say there won’t be a smell. No one can say there won’t be a flood if they overflow.
“The tanks will create problems that do not currently exist.”
An alternative site being put forward is next to Mouldon Hill.
However, this has been dismissed because Optimise says according to health and safety laws it is too close to power cables.
Coun Toby Elliot (Con, Priory Vale) has been in regular talks with Thames Water over recent months.
He said: “I think what is most frustrating is that many options have been put to Thames Water and they keep coming back with a long list of reasons why they can’t build at one site or another.
“It seems as though their mind is already made up.
“Imagine if we had taken the attitude at the London Olympics that we couldn’t build because it was near power cables.
“I think we need a bit of British Ingenuity.”
Ward councillor Emma Faramarzi also attended the meeting. She said: “I think the strength of feeling towards this is very clear.
“It’s a development which is far too close to people’s houses.
“People have had to put up with a lot of building here over the years without complaint.
“It’s very unfair to now expect them to put up with what is effectively a giant cesspit outside their house.”
Although the Optimise representatives were unable to speak directly to the press when speaking to residents, they said that they felt they had listened to residents’ views and they believed legislation prevented them from building elsewhere.