Greenwich residents are being asked for comments on options for additional river crossings at Thamesmead and Bexley, and on retention of the Woolwich Ferry. You can find much more about this on the Transport for London website here. There’s lots to read: traffic flow reports, air quality assessments, and so on, which you can find in the links on the consultation page. Please respond by September 18th. This is a non-statutory consultation, but it’s still important for residents to give their views, as it may influence TfL’s preferences when it assesses the options.
Please note that this does not cover the proposed Silvertown crossing, which will be consulted on later this year.
The Westcombe Society’s response to the consultation:
The Westcombe Society is a local amenity society for the area between Greenwich Park and the A102, to the south of the Greenwich rail line. We are therefore very familiar with the current levels of congestion, noise and pollution surrounding the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel. We urge that reduction in congestion and pollution are amongst the main objectives of any policy on river crossings.
We question some of the bases of this consultation. Most importantly, we believe that this consultation is premature and incorrect to assume that the Silvertown crossing is a given. This consultation should have been based on traffic plans that show impacts both with and without the Silvertown crossing.
In addition, we are aware that the Department for Transport published the results of a Lower Thames Crossing consultation in July 2014. This concluded that a new crossing was needed, and presented two options. The Transport Secretary has stressed the Department for Transport’s commitment to a new Lower Thames crossing. However, this has not been taken into account in the traffic surveys or other studies undertaken in relation to the East London river crossings. We believe that a new Lower Thames crossing would make a material difference to the levels of local traffic seeking to cross the Thames, and render the current traffic surveys for this area incorrect.
We fully accept the needs of goods transportation, and the fact that it is the most disadvantaged sector as far as current river crossings are concerned. We are aware of the difficulties faced by industry, in terms of excessive delays and inability to predict the time it will take to cross the river, due to congestion and restrictions to services, and would like to see this problem alleviated.
Vehicle emissions in South East London are currently very high. In parts of the Westcombe Park area, air quality tests have shown results well above the European Union levels for nitrogen dioxide. To achieve the required substantial reduction in emissions, any new crossings must help to reduce congestion without the increase in overall traffic levels which is the typical result of additional road capacity. We therefore fully support proposals for tolling all crossings to manage traffic flows, even though this will cause financial pressure on businesses and on individual drivers. In principle, we also support the suggestion for higher tolls on those vehicles which do not meet the Ultra-Low Emissions zone standards, although to avoid these more polluting vehicles taking longer alternative routes, consideration should be given to extending the whole zone to the East London river area. We are concerned that tolling may impel many other drivers as well to seek non-tolled crossings, and we would want to see measures put in place to lessen this. The impacts on Greenwich town centre, Deptford, and New Cross from drivers using the Rotherhithe Tunnel instead of tolled crossings could be disastrous for the amenity of local inhabitants.
Ahead of new road-building we would like to see investment in public transport to take as many vehicles off the road as possible and to ensure transport for those less able to meet the toll charges. We support the calls for the proposed Overground Line from Gospel Oak to Barking Riverside, currently under consultation, to be extended across the Thames to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, to lessen the need for new road crossings and alleviate the pressure on Crossrail, already projected to be at full capacity from opening day. Further improvements to bus, rail, DLR, Overground and tube networks should be given priority.
We would like to see the Woolwich Ferry retained but we are neutral on other crossings, as arguments for and against each option should be related to local factors such as existing road systems and needs. We do not have sufficient knowledge of the road systems in the Thamesmead or Bexleyheath areas to feel able to comment on these proposed crossings. We have noted that some of your survey material, for instance the East London River Crossings Business Survey, aggregates responses by borough, without the more localised granular data which would be more informative for your planners.
Relating to local factors, we are aware of the arguments to do with development of job opportunities and corporate growth which new river crossing might bring. We would like to see consideration given to whether the proposals would create a more compact economic zone, reducing the need for long-distance travel for freight and people. More compact economic zones would also increase opportunities for cycle, pedestrian, and public transport, and we would like to see consideration given to investment in non-vehicle transport. As your material noted, public transport is the key concern for 61% of businesses asked what they most favoured about their current location.
Finally we would ask that in any case the Woolwich Ferry should not be closed at all until after any other crossing is built.