The Green Party has responded to Highways England’s newly launched consultation for a new multi-billion pound tunnel to be built under the Thames between Tilbury in Essex and Gravesend in Kent.
Highways England claim that the tunnel will bring economic benefits to the Southern and Eastern areas and that it will help to reduce congestion at the current Dartford crossing. Greens argue that this is short-sighted and flawed. A second crossing would do nothing to tackle congestion in the long term, as it would facilitate increased road travel, known as ‘induced traffic’.
Greens are also heavily concerned about the wider impact this tunnel will have on local residents and the environment. Research from Public Health England reveals that 6.7% of deaths in Dartford are attributable to air pollution. Greens believe a new crossing will do little or nothing to alleviate pollution at Dartford and will bring further heightened pollution to residents elsewhere, on both sides of the Thames.
Greens want to see measures put in place to tackle air and noise pollution, rather than extending our road networks and high levels of pollutants associated with them. Greens are highlighting that the billions of pounds spent on this development could be better invested in measures which would reduce pollution and tackle the urgent issue of climate change. Greens are calling for investment in rail networks to make them fit for purpose, allowing people and freight to move in a more sustainable, less polluting way.
Green Party Kent County Councillor, Martin Whybrow, said:
“Kent has some of the highest air pollution levels in the country, and developing further road networks does nothing to counter this. With air pollution in Kent responsible for hundreds of deaths every year, it’s time to stop pouring money into more polluting roads. We need cleaner, sustainable travel options that move people and freight away from vehicles, for the sake of people’s health and the sake of our environment “
The Green Party’s national transport spokesperson, Caroline Russell, said:
“Instead of building more roads and encouraging more people to travel by car, we need policies which are fit for the 21st century. Our Government just participated in securing a global deal to tackle climate change – in light of this commitment, our obsession with carbon-intensive travel has to end.”
Greens are urging concerned residents to respond to the consultation.
4] Pollution from road traffic, and particularly from diesel fumes, is a key contributor to deadly air pollution. The key pollutants of concern are Particulate Matter and Nitrogen Dioxide which are particularly threatening to human health.
5] Green MP Caroline Lucas’s Railways Bill calls for the railways to be brought back into public hands, to improve investment in our rails and to ensure affordability and access: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2015-16/railways.html. It is supported by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonald, amongst others.by