Radical rethink needed on Thames crossing solution

No-one who has crawled through traffic congestion at the Dartford crossings can doubt that there is a problem that needs fixing, and it needs fixing now. Nor do the residents who suffer from dangerously high levels of air pollution need reminding that this is a situation which has long been intolerable.

Our first thoughts on the location are here. But now that the dust is beginning to settle on the announcement of the likely location of the Thames crossing, there’s an opportunity to reflect on what this means for Kent and beyond.

A2 near Gravesend, Highways England

A2 near Gravesend, Highways England

As a solution to the problems suffered at Dartford, the tunnel east of Gravesend performs very poorly indeed. Highways England’s consultation acknowledged that, on opening, the tunnel would draw just 14% of the traffic from Dartford, which is a woefully poor improvement on a situation that is intolerable now and can only become worse in the time it will take a tunnel to be built.

We know from years of observations that building roads to remove congestion is counter-productive; new roads fill with traffic faster than the roads they are supposed to be relieving. CPRE’s report published only last month showed the most comprehensive evidence to date that building new roads is not the solution.

A huge proportion of the goods we trade with mainland Europe and beyond travel through the Channel Port of Dover and the Channel tunnel, and there are ambitious plans to grow traffic through the port of Dover. If the experience of past road building schemes has taught us anything at all, it is that before long Kent’s highways network, even with an additional tunnel across the Thames, will be back at or beyond capacity and we will have endured the environmental and social damage of building and using a tunnel for no long-term solution.

View from church tower at Chalk across Kert countryside by Glen

View from church tower at Chalk across Kert countryside by Glen

Before destroying communities, landscapes and designated sites, we want urgent attention to be given to developing a sustainable transport strategy. Fostering and encouraging the continued growth in traffic through Kent is not good for the country’s economic resilience. The unprecedented events of 2015, leading to over 30 days’ implementation of Operation Stack, should have taught us the lesson that focusing so much of the country’s imports and exports through the already constrained M2/M20 corridors cannot make economic sense.

We urge government to take a radical re-think of the focus on funneling so much traffic on roads through the South East. We need modal shift which will take freight off roads and on to rail, yet the plans for the new Thames crossing are totally silent on the possibility of addition non-road capacity.

Muggins Lane, connecting Shorne Ifield to Gravesend, Brian Fuller

Muggins Lane, connecting Shorne Ifield to Gravesend, Brian Fuller

April 24th 2017

 

 

 

https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/cip/lower-thames-crossing-consultation/user_uploads/lower-thames-crossing-consultation-booklet.pdf

http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/transport/roads/item/4543-the-end-of-the-road-challenging-the-road-building-consensus

Warning of serious increase in air pollution

CPRE Kent has made final comments to the Airports Commission raising concerns about the serious impact on air quality of a new runway at Gatwick or Heathrow.

Any additional runway capacity will damage the UK’s efforts to control its carbon emissions.
And, as the UK Supreme Court has stated, the Air Quality Directive requires no detriment to existing air quality.

CPRE Kent Director Dr Hilary Newport said: “It is impossible to increase the number of flights from any airport without increasing air pollution. We trust that the Commission and the Government will at last recognise this and rule out expansion to protect the health, welfare and economy of the UK.”

London_Gatwick_Airport_(6555355805)wikki

 

CPRE Kent makes the point that the Airports Commission is assessing the economic benefits of a new runway operating at full capacity; while looking at the environmental impact based on it operating at half or less capacity (in 2030).

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Submission to Airport Commission focuses on noise and tranquillity

CPRE Kent has made a submission to the Airports Commission consultation into a new runway at Gatwick or Heathrow, raising the issues of noise and tranquillity and pressure on the environment and infrastructure.

The consultation closed yesterday (3rd February) and the Commission will publish its report this summer.

In our submission, we have drawn on the devastating impacts of recent flight path alterations which have seen a concentration of flights over previously tranquil areas of west Kent.

“This has brought misery to many people living in west Kent,” said CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport. “The importance of tranquillity cannot be overstated – it is the main reason why people enjoy the countryside and can prevent stress and aid people’s enjoyment of exercise and play.”

London_Gatwick_Airport_(6555355805)wikki

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Campaign Against Gatwick Expansion

CPRE Kent will be campaigning stongly against a new runway for Gatwick. The impact on Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and the Weald would be devastating – the noise, the loss of tranquillity in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the congestion and the pressure for more and more housing to cater for the 90,000 jobs which it claims would be created.

With two runways, Gatwick could handle 560,000 air traffic movements a year, compared to 250,000 a year at present. At busy times of day now aircraft take off or land at a rate of nearly one a minute – with a new runway it would be doubnearly two a minute.

“We do not have the road or rail capacity to cope with the additional passengers,” said CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport. “It could severely affect people’s quality of life in West Kent because of the additional noise, the congestion, the pressure to build on greenfield sites and the loss of tranquillity in some of our most beautiful areas.”

We believe there is enough existing runway capacity at British airports to accommodate the demand for flights. The South East also has excellent rail and ferry links to the continent and use of these should be maximised.

We also believe that to focus aviation growth on London, which already has so many runways, is wrong for the UK. It will cause great pressure to build on greenfield sites and it will reinforce the North South divide.

On November 22nd we joined colleagues from CPRE Sussex and CPRE Surrey at a Gatwick Campaign meeting, attended by all the interested parties including five MPs and many local councillors. We are heartened that the Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter has now come out in opposition to the second runway and airport expansion because of the impact on people living in West Kent..

We will be lobbying MPs and councillors to oppose the plans. We will respond to the Airports Commission consultation paper. And we will continue to campaign against the noise and loss of tranquillity caused by damaging flight paths.

We will be working together with some of the many groups opposed to Gatwick:

Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC)

http://www.gacc.org.uk/

CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions) East based in the area around Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.

http://beagblog.wordpress.com/

http://www.cagne.org/

HWPAAG (The High Weald Parishes Aviation Action Group) consisting of eight parishes In the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty all adversely affected by aircraft noise. (Chiddingstone, Hever, Leigh and Penshurst Parish Councils)

Gatwick Obviously Not

http://www.gatwickobviouslynot.org/

WAGAN (Weald Action Group Against Noise)

http://www.sevenoakswealdpc.kentparishes.gov.uk/default.cfm?pid=4966

December 3rd 2014

Response to roads announcement

CPRE Kent has raised its concerns at the roads investment package – worth £1.4billion across the South East – announced by the Government, warning that road building can create traffic and damage countryside. We make the point that past experience has shown that more roads lead to increased traffic which in turn leads to more congestion.

roads campaign cpre

However, we also highlight some positive elements of the announcement – the A21 dualling between Tonbridge and Pembury, although contentious, is a model of how road building should be done, with sensitivity to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The designers listened to campaigners from CPRE Kent and the scheme will include good non-motorised local access running closely parallel separated from the dual carriageway with properly designed crossing points.

CPRE Kent also welcomes the fact that improvements to Junction 5 of the M2 (A249), a notorious congestion hot-spot, are to be carried out and looks forward to finding out more detail of what is planned.

CPRE Kent has argued since 2005 for the introduction of high speed tolls at the Dartford crossing – this is finally happening, but the charity wants the Government to wait to see the full effect of the tolls on improving traffic flow before committing to building any further crossings at Dartford or east of Gravesend which would not only damage the countryside but also increase traffic.

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Airport Expansion consultation opens

We will be campaigning to protect the tranquillity of West Kent by calling for changes in flight paths and saying NO to a second runway at Gatwick.

We are calling for the permanent withdrawal of the P-RNAV route which has caused intolerable levels of noise due to the concentration of the flight paths over parts of West Kent. We must stop the loss of tranquillity in this area.

London_Gatwick_Airport_(6555355805)wikki

And we say the second runway at Gatwick is not needed. We should focusing on making the best use of the runway capacity there, and more environment-friendly transport strategies, not carving up the south east for more runways. We believe we should maximise the use of cross-Channel routes to France and ensure that flights are not crossing to the near continent half empty.

We are pleased that Kent County Council said today (November 24th) that it is now opposed to a second runway at Gatwick and is also campaigning against the intolerable noise levels affecting some of Kent’s residents. Read more on our Gatwick campaign here.

24 Nov 2014


End to aviation at Manston?

The announcement of the apparent end of Manston Airport’s history of aviation came today with the news that the majority holdings of the site have been bought by property developers.

It seems new owners Trevor Cartner and Chris Musgrave, part of the consortium behind the nearby Discovery Park in Sandwich, intend to redevelop the site rather than to re-open the airport. Their regeneration plans could include commercial, manufacturing and residential uses and represent a potential boon to Thanet and the surrounding area, with the promise of up to 4,000 jobs.

However, thDSCF1464is will only be the case if the plans are firmly linked into Thanet’s emerging local plan, subject to full public consultation, and consider the environmental constraints of the area.

The site could make a significant contribution to the wider development needs of east Kent, potentially protecting greenfield sites from development. We hope that the local authorities will grasp this opportunity for a properly joined up planning strategy for the wider area.


No Time for TEA (Thames Estuary Airport!)

Sir Howard Davis’s Airports Commission has finally announced that the idea of a wholly new hub airport in the Thames Estuary will no longer be considered a possibility.  We have to breathe a sigh of relief at this, since the enormous environmental damage, financial cost and business risk of such an enterprise have finally been clearly and damningly recognised.

Given the resounding pounding that the idea of a new ‘Boris Island’ has received this morning does give us cause to consider why so much public money has been unnecessarily spent in extending the work of the Commission in hammering the last few nails into this particular coffin.  Nevertheless, we must not allow ourselves to be distracted from the fact that the focus for airport capacity expansion is now firmly on either Gatwick or Heathrow.

CPRE Kent remains convinced – along with other Non-Governmental Organisations – that the case for expansion is far from clear-cut.  We contend that adequate airport capacity already exists; it is not passenger numbers but flight numbers that are the key parameter.  Flight numbers have not increased in line with passenger numbers, since aircraft now carry more passengers per flight.  Sensible management of transport policy, making best use of existing alternative (and less environmentally damaging) routes, could free up significant runway space (the south east has astonishingly good rail connections to mainland Europe, yet Heathrow alone carries over 10 flights per day to Paris alone).  Let’s make sensible use of the runway space that already exists – and yes, even at Manston, provided it can be operated under a sensible planning regime that prevents the erosion of night flight controls – before we rush to increase pollution, sacrifice homes, blight lives and lose green spaces.

HN

2nd September 2014