Strongly opposed to damaging new crossing

CPRE Kent has raised significant concerns about the proposed Lower Thames crossing including fears over air quality, transport, devastation of areas of countryside and the complete failure of strategic planning which means it won’t even solve the problem.

Responding the Highways England consultation, we have stressed that we are strongly opposed to option C (bored tunnels from Gravesend) but we would also oppose option A at Dartford because of the longer-term induced traffic growth, congestion and reduction in air quality.

Artist's impression of the bored tunnels

Artist’s impression of the bored tunnels

Director Hilary Newport said: “The planned crossing would damage important areas of countryside that are a vital ‘green lung’ to the urban population of the Medway towns, providing recreation and the opportunity for quiet enjoyment of the countryside which is so important for physical and psychological health.”

These areas include ancient woodland and Metropolitan Green Belt. There would also be an impact on the wider area, a loss of amenity in and around Shorne Country Park and the open landscapes to the north.

Post Opening Performance Evaluation (POPE) studies for new roads schemes have repeatedly shown that new road routes do not just relieve congestion, but create and attract new traffic.

There is already an over-reliance on the channel corridor and the channel crossings for the transport of goods to and from Europe. This should be an issue of national concern for the UK’s resilience and security. Not only is there the need to implement Operation Stack during periods of disruption, but even during normal operations, the Dover ‘Traffic Assessment Project’ (’Dover TAP’) is frequently used to hold back port-bound HGVs on the A20 to limit congestion and air pollution in Dover Town Centre. This of course simply displaces the same congestion and air quality concerns to other parts of the roads network. Continue reading

M20 Junction 10a

CPRE Kent’s Ashford Committee has submitted comments on the proposed new Junction 10a of the M20.

We are concerned about the effect the new junction would have on the wider road network, particularly the Romney Marsh road and the country lanes around Mersham.

Chairman of the Ashford Committee Hilary Moorby said: “It is imperative that the village of Mersham is protected from the village lanes becoming rat runs to the M20. It is also important that a buffer of open countryside between the village and the industrial site U19 (Stour park) is provided.”

M20 approaching Junction 10

M20 approaching Junction 10

Mersham Parish Council has requested that the link between Kingsford  Street and Highfield Lane be closed and we support this.

We also want to know the exact effect on public rights of way and need details of any permanent closure or realignment so that the needs of pedestrians, horses and cyclists can be assessed and provided for.

We are calling for safety measures on the Barrey Rd/A2070 Junction, including traffic lights, a strict enforcement of the proposed 40mph speed limit  and a lane restricted to hospital traffic only.

We also want more done to mitigate the damage to the existing environment and protect the important wildlife on the site.

You can read our full comments here.

March 21st 2016.


Evidence on Operation Stack submitted to Transport Select Committee

CPRE Kent has submitted a written response to the Government’s Transport Committee inquiry on Operation Stack.

This follows last October’s one off evidence session into the impact of Operation Stack following the chaos of last summer.

In November 2015 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced funding up to £250 million for a permanent lorry park to increase resilience in Kent, by taking pressure off the roads in the event of Operation Stack. The Government is consulting on a preferred site at Stanford and other alternatives. In the short term, the former Manston Airport site will continue to be used as a lorry park.

 

Operation stack 035 Operation stack 036

CPRE Kent holds to the principle that a single permanent lorry park which is used only in the event
that Operation Stack needs to be implemented is the wrong solution to the wrong problem. Kent is
an inevitable and unavoidable bottleneck in the flow of traffic between the UK and the rest of
mainland Europe, and the high and rising volume of road-borne freight transiting the county is the
most important issue that needs to be addressed.
The disruptions to Kent and the UK’s economy, as well as the unacceptable impacts on local lives and livelihoods, that resulted from the lengthy implementation of Operation Stack in 2015 served to
demonstrate the fragility of the logistics industry’s reliance on this concentrated route. We contend
that the time has come for a solution which would offer real resilience to the nation’s trade and
transport links and offer flexible alternatives to the logistics industry, both now and in the future.
We propose a 21st Century solution to the problems of over-concentration of road-based HGVs in
Kent.

To read our full submission click here.

For details of the inquiry click here.

February 29th 2016

Lower Thames Crossing debate

We will be debating the proposed new Lower Thames Crossing at an important public meeting next week.

Wednesday, 2nd March
St John’s Catholic Comprehensive School, Rochester Road, Gravesend, Kent DA12 2JW

Doors open 18:00 for 19:00 start

Lower Thames Crossing image

Organised by Gravesham Neighbourhood Forums, the speakers are CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport and Highways England Consultation Manager Martin Potts. The meeting will be chaired by journalist Iain McBride with maximum time for questions.

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

Meanwhile we have raised our concerns about the implications for pollution of the proposed new crossing.

Alex Hills, Chairman of the Dartford and Gravesham branch of CPRE Kent, said: “We all know that pollution is a killer with the young most at risk and yet the route being promoted passes many schools. We find it baffling that Highways England is not going to do a full modelling of the impact on air quality until after the route has been chosen.”(1)

Highways England documents state that no parts of the south east meet the ambient air quality directive(2) and Gravesend and Rochester town centres already exceed safe pollution levels. Experts calculate that pollution accounts for 40,000(3) early deaths a year. Research has proven that pollution can cause asthma, strokes and heart attacks, so should be regarded as a serious health issue.(4)

It is for this reason the government is supposed to be working towards reducing UK emissions by 60%.  Air pollution reduces brain function and development in children(5). A new tunnel and the associated road network leading to and from the tunnel will only lead to a worsening of air pollution levels in Kent and Essex.

Alex Hills said: “The increasing evidence on the effects of air pollution on people’s health makes the government’s insistence on a new road crossing indefensible. There needs to be a proper study into the alternatives. We have called for a sustainable transport strategy to ease congestion not just here but on the M20 and at Dover too.”

(1)Highways England document volume 6.4.3.6

(2)In 2015 the Supreme court ruled the UK had been in breach of the Ambient Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC since 2010

(3)Royal College of Physicians-Channel 4 Despatches 22.2.2016

(4)Queen Marys Hospital London, Professor Jonathan Grigg and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Professor David Newby, Channel 4 Despatches 22.2.2016

(5)Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona Professor Jordi Sunyer- Channel 4 Despatches 22.2.2016

For more information on our policy position click here.

February 25 2016.

We question whether huge lorry park is the answer to Operation Stack

We have questioned whether it is sensible to rely on a huge lorry park in the Kent countryside as a solution to Operation Stack when it may well only be used for a very few days each year.

While recognising that last summer’s unprecedented disruption caused by Operations Stack was totally unacceptable, we believe a longer term, more creative and sustainable solution is required.

Photo by Hilary Newport

Photo by Hilary Newport

Director Hilary Newport said: “We do not think that a single huge lorry park, which may only be called into use for a few days – if at all – in any year is the answer. A better solution would offer real resilience to the logistics industry now and into the future and help not just Kent but the whole country cope with disruption, strikes or emergency, such as extreme weather, fire or security threats.”

Not only that but other problems need to be addressed including roadside parking of HGVs with the associated litter and noise; noise and air pollution caused by engines running in slow-moving traffic jams or when stationary to keep refrigeration units running; disproportionate wear and tear on Kent’s roads.

CPRE Kent contends that instead of the expensive and damaging construction of a single lorry park, investment should be made to:

    • Support a network of dispersed, serviced truck stops which operate on a commercial basis and which have some degree of overflow capacity in the event of disruption to the channel crossings. Many shippers prohibit trucks stopping within 120km of Calais. Similar measures should be employed to hold vehicles outside the Channel Corridor until called forward
    • Incentivise the use of alternative ports of entry and exit (such as Newhaven, Ramsgate, Sheerness, Dartford, Portsmouth, Purfleet), as well as modal shift away from road-based freight – this would also have the additional benefit of reducing reliance on the Dartford crossings
    • Incentivise shippers to return to unaccompanied trailer operations across the Channel which would also boost UK employment of HGV drivers and reduce emissions
    • Work with the logistics industry, fleet operators and drivers to implement ‘smart queuing’ – smart phones, GPS and communications technology should remove the need for drivers to be nearest the front of any physical queue in Kent, when they could be called forward from dispersed locations further afield and guaranteed timely passage across the channel.
    • Implement ‘quick wins’ – we support the expansion of the existing Stop24 truck facility south of the M20 at J11, which could rapidly provide a partial solution.

Dr Newport said: “With modern technology and sophisticated international business operations, we are sure there is a better solution than allowing all the lorries to build up in Kent with no other way of reaching Europe than the Dover/ Folkestone to Calais crossings.”

To read CPRE Kent’s full position paper click here.

To read our consultation response, submitted 25th January 2016, click here.

January 25th 2016

Lower Thames Crossing

CPRE Kent, working together with CPRE Essex, has produced a policy statement on the Lower Thames Crossing. We are calling for a wider, more resilient solution, including investment in ports north of the Thames to disperse the cross channel movement of freight.

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

QE2 Bridge by Diamond Geezer, flickr

We believe better operation of the existing Thames crossings within a sustainable transport strategy would:

  • Be free from congestion
  • Have acceptably low air pollution levels
  • Be part of a dispersed strategic transport network and channel crossing system, resilient to economic, security and weather issues
  • Reduce the number of loaded trucks parking up overnight and at weekends on local roads
  • Offer a partnership with fleet managers for an end to unsocial working conditions for drivers
  • Promote more diversion to rail and unaccompanied trailer operations
  • Herald the beginning of a lower impact future for transport through Kent and Essex

To read the full policy statement click here.

December 15th 2015

Rural Rat Runs!

The problems of rat running traffic, inconsiderate driving and danger to walkers, cyclists and equestrians on our rural lanes are all too familiar in Kent.  CPRE has long been campaigning for lower speed limits on rural lanes and for better provision to be made for non-motorised road users.

We do not normally favour road closures, but in the case of Cornford Lane, an ancient lane on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whose character and safety are being destroyed by through traffic, an experimental Traffic Regulation Order and a barrier half way along it to prevent its use as a through route by motor vehicles appears to be the best solution.  See the website of the Friends of Cornford Lane www.cornfordlane.co.uk for further details and to add your voice to their petition.


Manston for sale!

Of course we are saddened to think that existing jobs at Manston might be out at risk, but it confirms our long-standing concerns that Manston has been unable to become a commercial success for many reasons, not least its lack of infrastructure. Manston airport has consistently struggled to attract passengers and airline operators to the airport despite the massive amounts of investment into it.

If a fresh start means that new airport operators are able to breathe new life into Manston airport, we sincerely hope that Thanet District Council will take this as an opportunity to bring the whole operation under the proper control of a robust planning agreement that will protect the interests of all of Thanet’s residents. The prospect of intensification of night flights, while Manston airport has been unable to exploit its daytime capacity, has hung over the county for far too long.