Debate on east London river crossings hots up

By Rob Virtue on January 24, 2013 3:25 PM |

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As the consultation into the need for more river crossings approaches its final week the campaigns of the two opposing views are becoming more and more visible.

Transport for London wants opinions on whether a tunnel between Silvertown and North Greenwich has favour.

Those in the anti camp, backed by experts in air quality studies, held a debate in Poplar earlier this week over the effects a link next to Blackwall would have on the lives' of locals.

Attendees heard air pollution is already a huge problem in Tower Hamlets. The Guardian reported King's College respiratory toxicology lecturer Ian Mudway as saying: "(The public) understand that you die from alcohol or obesity but air pollution doesn't have that risk factor in people's imagination, yet it's a killer."

The group argue the building of another crossing in this part of London will merely attract more vehicles to already congested roads, rather than relieve the traffic, which is what TfL believes.

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Another dissenter this week, speaking to Homes and Property magazine, is - adviser of Mayor Boris Johnson - Sir Terry Farrell.

Although a supporter of river crossings he said, rather than tunnels, low level bridges should be the answer, allowing people to cross by foot and bike.

"You could build half a dozen low-level bridges, like Waterloo Bridge, for the cost of a tunnel," he said, arguing a tunnel was not "spontaneous enough".

However, Transport for London has said its consultation responses have been overwhelmingly in favour of a Silvertown Tunnel and a replacement ferry for the antiquated one at Woolwich - as high as 90 per cent.

One key area of support comes in the form of businesses from both sides of the Thames.

Not only do they back a Silvertown crossing but many also want TfL to push ahead with plans for a bridge at Gallions Reach - a proposal which the transport body seems less keen on.

As The O2's general manager Rebecca Kane said in a recent article in The Wharf: "The Blackwall Tunnel has been an inherent problem for our customers, tenants and partners.

"(The O2's owners) AEG strongly supports the proposal for a tunnel crossing at Silvertown and a bridge at Gallions Reach."

On Monday, January 28, those against the Silvertown crossing take the debate south of river from 6.30-8.30pm at Forum@Greenwich in Trafalgar Road.

Meanwhile, TfL is giving interested parties until February 1 to submit their thoughts to its river crossings consultation. Go to https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/rivercrossings/consultation