The proposed Lower Thames Crossing will add further strain to Gravesham’s environment
With the prospect of the Lower Thames Crossing between Kent and Essex threatening swathes of countryside on both sides of the river, Alex Hills, chairman of Gravesham CPRE, offers his view on government roads policy while also asking if we’re all doing our bit to tackle air pollution
By continuing to build poorly planned new roads, the government is assisting a deadly force that slaughters 40,000 to 50,000 people a year. This serial killer preys on everyone, especially the young and old – and it is air pollution.
The World Health Organisation is calling for drastic action. It is estimated that up to one-third of asthma-related hospital admissions are caused by air pollution.
This year has seen many new studies on other harmful effects, including damage to unborn children, brain damage and even obesity.
The physical cost to the nation runs into many millions of pounds, aside from the mental suffering, which cannot be priced.
Yet, despite this, the government continues to plan schemes such as the Lower Thames Crossing between Gravesham in Kent and Thurrock in Essex, knowing it will not remove the problems of congestion at Dartford.
The new crossing will increase traffic congestion on both sides of the river and on all north-south routes through Kent, resulting in many more deaths through increased air pollution.
There has been much talk about zero-emission electric cars, but there is no such thing as zero-emission.
Electric cars produce pollution through their tyres, the manufacture and disposal of components (especially the battery, which uses rare metals that are open-cast-mined), building the infrastructure required to support them and the production of the electricity to charge the batteries.
We, of course, are part of the problem and also part of the solution.
Government could do so much more – solar panels on industrial buildings, heat-pump installations in new housing estates and improved building standards including better insulation.
There urgently needs to be a sustainable green transport plan.
There are small things we can all do:
- Ensure our vehicles are well maintained
- Make one less car journey per week
- Use energy-efficient products
- Walk or cycle to school, work or shops
There is no one simple solution to our air quality crisis, but are you at least playing your own small part?
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
What future for Pond Farm at Newington?
After the high-profile Farthingloe Valley appeal hearing at the Supreme Court yesterday, CPRE Kent has been back in court again today (Wednesday, October 18).
This time we are in the High Court supporting the decision to reject a scheme for up to 330 homes and 260 residential and care “units” near Sittingbourne on the grounds of harm to the landscape and increased air pollution.
Gladman Developments Ltd is challenging the dismissal in January this year of two linked appeals it made against the refusal of planning permission for its scheme at Pond Farm, Newington.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government’s inspector had dismissed the appeals because of “the substantial harm http://onhealthy.net that the appeal proposals would cause to the character of a valued landscape and their likely significant adverse effect on human health”.
Gladman is now contesting that dismissal on the grounds of the inspector’s treatment of future air quality and mitigation; the decision in relation to the Newington air quality action plan; and the decision’s claimed conflict with the emerging development plan for the village.
Defending January’s decision to dismiss Gladman’s appeals are the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Swale Borough Council.
CPRE Kent, which was an important participant in the planning inquiry in November last year, is present in the High Court as an Interested Party.
The hearing is due to finish tomorrow (Thursday).
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
CPRE Kent is calling for a commitment to improve the environment and community health as well as save valuable farmland in its response to the Medway Local Plan consultation.
Allhallows Marshes by Amanda Slater
We will be asking Medway Council to:
- recognise the contribution of agricultural land to local sustainability, and invest in improving ecosystems for healthy communities, well-being and resilience;
- Include “access to nature” when planning growth;
- enhance the understanding of biodiversity conservation across whole landscapes;
- make adaption to climate change a priority;
- proactively assess underused or vacant sites (especially brownfield) that might contribute to regeneration or meeting housing need, including small sites;
- consider sustainability when assessing sites (such as the employment park at Kingsnorth on the Hoo Peninsula), including transport infrastructure and other services;
- consider accessibility of local people to space and countryside;
- ensure Green Belt is given the highest level of protection, as specified in the recent Housing White Paper;
- continue with the designation of development gaps and areas of local landscape importance;
- consider the impact on air quality of all development and associated travel.
Photo: diamond geezer
Cycling on the Hoo Peninsula by Steve Cadman
CPRE Kent Planner Jillian Barr said: “A strong and ambitious vision is necessary to deliver growth, protect the environment, but also to deliver improvements to the environment and community health. This is essential to Medway’s future. We are pleased that the council is consulting so thoroughly at this stage of the plan process and recognise that there are challenging targets. There is a proven link between access to nature, space, dark skies and tranquillity and the health of communities and we hope the council will take this fully on board now and when looking at sites over the next 18 years.”
CPRE Kent has now submitted its full response to the plan – read it here.
June 5th 2017
CPRE Kent has expressed its concern about the effect on tranquillity and the environment of airport expansion after the Government backed a third runway at Heathrow.
The countryside protection charity has campaigned against airport expansion at both Gatwick and Heathrow, in particular because of the serious impact on air quality and the devastating effect of aircraft noise.
“Aircraft noise brings misery to those living under the flight paths, including many people 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, it can prevent stress and increases our enjoyment of exercise and play.”
Photo: Phil Weedon
CPRE Kent also fears the extraordinary pressure that will be placed on the environment and existing infrastructure around Heathrow. Thousands of additional employees and passengers will be drawn to an area of the country already struggling to cope with the demand for housing and transport. Continue reading
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
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