As the UK tries to get its head around the greatest crisis since the Second World War, there is the possibility that the Brexit storm clouds may have a silver lining for the campaign to Save King Edward Memorial Park from the clutches of Thames Water.
Simple fact is that with the economic future for our country looking extremely bleak – and that’s just what the optimists say – any large scale infrastructure project such as the HS2 railway or the Thames Tideway Tunnel (aka ‘the supersewer’) is now under threat.
The nation is in collective shock
Before the referendum result some experts believed that any short term impact of the Brexit decision would be unlikely to have a major impact on the big national infrastructure projects.
But that was before the enormity of the consequences of Brexit became a reality.
As a nation we are in a state of collective shock. Some make comparisons with the days after the 9/11 attacks. No one new what the future would be like but everyone knew the world had changed forever.
In May the European Investment Bank (EIB) confirmed a £700 million finance package for the £4.2 billion Thames Tideway Tunnel. This level of financial commitment by the EIB represents the largest-ever loan for water investment worldwide.
The EIB is an autonomous body and operates outside the EU budget. The UK is the joint-largest shareholder and gets a lot back from its investment. But the EIB is just another bank. It may now consider any investment in the UK of this type just too plain risky and pull the plug on the supersewer.
Just another cash generating mechanism
As LW has repeatedly stated the reality of the Thames Tideway Tunnel is that it has very little to do with making the Thames cleaner.
It just happens to make the River Thames cleaner. And make every Thames Water customer in the country pay for it.
The Thames Tideway Tunnel is essentially just another cash generating mechanism for the Australian Macquarie Group which in turn creates investment vehicles for other corporate investors and creates corporate entities such as Bazalgette Tunnel Limited.
Wonder what the fund managers of Allianz, Amber Infrastructure Group, Dalmore Capital Limited and DIF who invested in Bazalgette Tunnel Limited are thinking about the future of Thames Water now?
Global corporates like Macquarie are only interested in profits for their shareholders. So if it now benefits Macquarie shareholders then it will pull the plug on the supersewer.
The same logic that created the supersewer and as a consequence threatened our lovely King Edward Memorial Park may be the same logic that saves it.
The Thames still needs to be made cleaner of course. The Save KEMP campaigners have never disputed that.
Ironic then if one of the greener, cheaper and just more sensible options that Save KEMP have always campaigned for emerges from the wreckage of the Brexit disaster.
Heaven knows that the nation will look like in future, but at least we might have the sanctuary of KEMP from which to view it.