Our concerns about air quality

We have submitted our concerns about air quality in the consultation “Improving air quality: national plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities”.

London air pollution by David Holt

We are very dissatisfied with DEFRA’s (Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) proposed measures to address the problem:

  • We do not accept that devolution of responsibility for air quality to local planning authorities is an appropriate way forward. Local authorities lack the resources, capacity and expertise to shoulder the responsibility.
  • We are concerned that each local planning authority will act in isolation with regard to air quality. The government is committed to delivering 1 million new homes by 2020, and it is clear that the adverse air quality impacts of increased traffic, increased congestion and air pollution in pinch-points, will be experienced across more than one planning authority area and we are aware of no overarching strategy that can address this.
  • Within Kent, we are particularly concerned at the conflict between the requirement for air quality improvement and policies and decisions on transport. Kent’s channel corridors provide for the movement of some 60% of freight between the UK and mainland Europe. Kent County Council’s Freight Action Plan seeks to facilitate increased traffic, rather than engage in sustainable freight movement strategies which reduce the nation’s reliance on this route. The Port of Dover’s expansion plans will have concomitant impact on the highways network further afield, not least at the existing Dartford Crossings. It is because of the congestion, delays and exceedance of air quality limit values that already exist at Dartford that DfT recently announced a third Thames Crossing to be sited east of Gravesend. However, Highways England have acknowledged that the construction of this crossing would be expected to divert only 14% of the traffic using Dartford to the new crossing at Gravesend; it will not resolve the existing problems at Dartford, but it will create new problems at Gravesend.

Continue reading

The end of the road?

CPRE Kent  has long argued that increased road building in fact leads to increased traffic, does not reduce journey times and does not bring the promised economic growth to areas. Plus it can destroy beautiful areas of countryside.

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Traffic by Jon Coller

New research published by CPRE today (March 20th) reveals that road-building is failing to provide the congestion relief and economic boost promised, while devastating the environment [1].

No wonder we are so concerned at the wisdom of potentially spending £3billion on a new Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend which would have a terrible economic impact and not solve the problem of congestion at the Dartford crossings.

The research, the largest ever independent review of completed road schemes in England, arrives as Highways England starts consulting on which road schemes will receive funding, set to triple to £3 billion a year by 2020 [2].

Drawing on the research, CPRE’s report The end of the road? directly challenges government claims that ‘the economic gains from road investment are beyond doubt’ [3]; that road-building will lead to ‘mile a minute’ journeys; and that the impact on the environment will be limited ‘as far as possible’ [4]. The report shows how road building over the past two decades has repeatedly failed to live up to similar aims. Continue reading

Our fears over 4,000 homes approved for south Canterbury

The biggest housing development ever proposed in Canterbury has been approved. Canterbury City council has given outline planning permission for the 4,000-home Mountfield Park ‘garden city’ in south Canterbury. It stretches from Canterbury’s southern edge as far as the village of Bridge and includes shops, office space, sports pitches, two primary schools and a potential new site for Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

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Photos: Vicky Ellis

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We fear that Mountfield Park will have a severe negative impact on Canterbury. It is not an appropriate site because it will damage the visual setting of the world heritage cathedral.

Canterbury Committee chairman Dr Alan Holmes said: “The development will be on some of our best and most versatile farmland – it is vital to preserve this because we already import over 60% of our food and food security is an important issue. There are other low grade sites or we advocate prioritising development on brownfield sites.

“We also fear there will be a considerable worsening of traffic congestion, particularly on the Dover Roads, and this will in turn worsen air pollution. The Royal College of Physicians has raised concerns over deteriorating air quality as the result of traffic emissions and the serious impact this has on public health.”

To read our submissions on Mountfield Park click here and here.

November 14th 2016

Otterpool Park

CPRE Kent has raised concerns about the proposed development of 12,000 homes at Otterpool Park near Westenhanger in Shepway.

 

Photo: No Otterpool New Town

Photo: No Otterpool New Town

The masterplan, by Shepway District Council, has won the backing of Government including a pledge of £750,000 capital funding.

However, there is no objectively assessed need for housing on this scale in this area. It will be more than half the size of Folkestone and well over twice the size of Hythe. We are concerned about increased congestion and inadequate infrastructure.

CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport said: “People living in villages nearby are already being impacted by the huge Operation Stack lorry park. This will blight our countryside and affect our communities. We believe in positive place-making but this needs to be done in the right place with sustainable communities and where there is a proven need. The priority should be for brownfield sites and to build out those planning permissions already granted.”

Fore more information see here and here.

Residents are meeting for an update and to plan their reaction to the plans at 7pm at Lympne castle tomorrow (November 15th). For more information see https://www.facebook.com/nootterpoolnewtown/

November 14th 2016

Dismay at lorry park decision

We are dismayed that the Government has today (July 6th) announced that the £250m lorry park the size of Disneyland will go ahead in the Kent countryside at Stanford. The Government is to start construction at the Stanford west site which will open next year.

photo, SOS Kent

We have argued that this is not the right solution and we need to look at the whole transport strategy, not least for the devastating effects of air pollution on the crowded and congested south east. This is a costly sticking plaster – £250m is almost the entire UK cycling budget.

It is galling that the Transport Select Committee listened to our arguments and agreed that the case had not yet been made to build this “gargantuan” concrete lorry park and other options should be considered, including a network of smaller lorry parks. Those committee findings seem to have been completely ignored.

Last week Hilary Newport set out her thoughts on the major transport problems facing Kent and called for pause for thought – what follows is her her blog. Continue reading

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

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

CPRE Kent opposes significant development at Lydden Race Circuit

CPRE Kent is opposed to the planned erection of a huge redevelopment of Lydden Race Circuit including two hospitality buildings, two grandstands, administration facilities, engineering units and access road.

The application (DOV/15/00827) represents a significant and harmful intensification of use at this site, will be detrimental to landscape of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and will impact the well-being of communities and the quiet enjoyment of the countryside.

Apex festival at Lydden Race Circuit, photo Beetle Challenge, flickr

Apex festival at Lydden Race Circuit, photo Beetle Challenge, flickr

Rather than being restricted to race days the proposal would mean intensified daily use of the site for activities including driver tuition and testing, race days, craft fairs and car shows. This will mean persistent disturbance to nearby residents and a loss of tranquillity in the AONB.

The proposals include an extended car park and, together with better facilities, this would mean more visitors and hence more vehicle movements on rural lanes, causing further erosion of tranquillity. The additional activity is likely to cause traffic congestion with increased local air pollution. Continue reading