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.

4294263042_267e2c6f02_o

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

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

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

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

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.

Continue reading