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.
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.
The new junction 10a of the M20 to support development to the south east of Ashford will hopefully unlock the potential for the brownfield land in the town and reduce development pressure in rural centres of Ashford borough.
“We have to be realistic,” said Hilary Newport, Director of CPRE Kent. “There is a pressure for road building but we will always campaign to ensure that where considered necessary it is done in the right way, such as with the A21 widening. We hope the automated tolls will be given a chance to work before any decision on a new Thames crossing is made as we believe they may well make the damage to our countryside of building a new crossing unnecessary.
“We must also remember that many people are unable or do not wish to travel by car so we urge the government to re-focus on sustainable transport options rather than just building roads which add to traffic and congestion.”
December 2nd 2014