SEWER campaigners have been hit with a double blow in their bid to stop part of the Thames Tunnel being built from Fulham.
On Tuesday, a new bill to allow the Government to underwrite major water projects such as the Super Sewer moved a step closer after it went through the Commons for the second time without opposition.
And, in the second setback, Government officials banned Hammersmith and Fulham Council from giving planning permission to housing projects in and around Carnwath Road, the site of one of three main shaft needed to construct the tunnel.
Stop Shafting Fulham Campaigners are due to confront Mayor Boris Johnson over the plans at a question and answer session at Hammersmith Town Hall on Wednesday evening.
The authority says it's furious at the 'out-of-the-blue' intervention, believing it paves the way for the controversial tunnel project to go ahead. It is threatening legal action over the row.
There was further controversy at the new Water Industry Financial Assistance Bill, which Caroline Spelman, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, says will help stop major water bill rises, mooted by Thames Water to help fund the £4.1bn tunnel.
The measures were not opposed by MPs, including vociferous opponent to the scheme, Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands. Mr Hands is also a Parliamentary Whip whose role is to pass through new bills, leading to an accusation of hypocrisy from Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter.
"This breathtaking hypocrisy is yet another instance of members of the Government doing one thing in the House, before going back to their constituencies and saying the complete opposite," he said.
Mr Hands denied the accusation, saiyng: "This isn't remotely controversial and has cross-party support. Its main purpose is to allow tax payers to step in to stop water rates going up for Londoners should project costs come in higher than expected."
He added the bill wouldn't affect the planning decision but a letter to Mr Slaughter from Natural Environment and Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon says the bill is a 'key element in ensuring the tunnel can be delivered'.
Meanwhile, the council is still reeling from the letter it received from an official at the Communities and Local Government department, which told the authority that ‘without specific authorisation from DCLG, your authority cannot grant planning permission, or enter into any agreement or other arrangements, or pass any resolution, in connection with the possible grant of planning permission’.
Shocked deputy leader Nick Botterill said: "This is a bolt out of the blue that fundamentally goes against the Government’s localism agenda.
"This is centralist and heavy handed especially when ministers have always said that they would not get involved in site selection issues. Only last week, the Mayor of London confirmed to us that, while he still remains a supporter of the controversial concrete pipe, he is neutral over which sites are used along the river."
Sewer campaigners were at the Town Hall on Wednesday night to confront Mayor Boris Johnson about the project.