Campaigners say Mayor should focus on sustainable transport despite ‘strong support’ for Thames crossings in consultation
Residents in East London have shown ‘strong support’ for two proposed Thames road crossings in East London, Transport for London (TfL) has said, despite opponents arguing that they would drive down air quality.
The crossings – a new traffic tunnel under the Thames river at Greenwich and either a vehicle ferry route or bridge at Gallions Reach- have been proposed to improve travel links to the East of the city.
TfL published the findings of a public consultation launched in partnership with the Mayor of London (see airqualitynews.com story) on the crossings last week (May 7), which suggested that around 76% of those polled supported the Silvertown crossing, while a further 51% supported the proposals for a ferry service at Gallions Reach, and 71% supported a fixed solution.
However environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth has branded the project a ‘waste of money’ and have called on the Mayor to scrap the plans.
TfL’s managing director of planning, Michele Dix said: “We have delivered very significant public transport improvements providing better connections across the Thames in south and south east London, however with London’s population potentially reaching 10 million by 2031, we recognise the importance that will be placed on transporting goods and services throughout east and south east London.
“The proposed additional road infrastructure is vital. Apart from the opening of the QEII Bridge at Dartford there has been no increase in the capacity of the highway network across the river in east London for nearly 50 years.â€?
But in response, Friends of the Earth’s London campaigner, Jenny Bates, said: “The Mayor is not prepared to take the bold action necessary now to curb traffic levels and bring dangerous air pollution within EU legal limits – making it harder by adding to traffic from new road crossings would be madness.
“The reality is that new road space generates new traffic – as people switch to driving and make new journeys if it is made easier for them.
“TfL expect to toll the new crossings and existing Blackwall tunnel to prevent traffic chaos – though most respondents were opposed to the tolling proposals.â€?
Ms Bates argued that there are ‘better ways’ to tackle existing congestion problems in the capital than the planned river crossings.
She added: “East and South East London need ways to help the area without adding to traffic, congestion and air pollution – investing in walking and cycling and improving public transport would make healthier and better places to live and work and visit.
“Lessons need to be learnt from the Thames Gateway road bridge public inquiry where the supposed need for the scheme and regeneration claims made by TfL did not stand up.”
Meanwhile, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Newham councils both welcomed the findings of the consultation, adding that they both ‘firmly believe’ that new crossings would provide much needed development to the area and create around 20,000 jobs – as well as easing congestion.
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “It remains our firm view that these crossings are essential to maximising the economic growth and employment potential of the Royal Docks and the Greenwich Waterfront.
“We are disappointed further consultation may be needed as the support for both fixed crossings is clearly overwhelming so we would urge Transport for London to progress these plans as quickly as possible.”
TfL is now considering the findings in the consultation. If a decision is taken to progress any of the proposed options further, more detailed consultations will take place.