Thames river crossings (Gallions Reach, Belvedere)

Transport for London’s idea of ‘progress’ is pressing for more bridges and more traffic

The lead opposition groups in Bexley are LA21 and Bexley Against Road Crossings

TfL and Bexley Council want to build new tolled road bridges across the Thames at Gallions Reach and Belvedere.

Transport for London (TfL) is consulting yet again on proposals for river crossings in east London, this time for two bridges that would impact on Bexley. The current ‘consult’ finished on September 18th 2014:

This battle will run for some time, however, so please get involved if you believe more bridges are not the way forward.

We offer some initial resources here, and hope to make more available shortly. What is really needed is a properly organised campaign of opposition, proposing alternatives, with its own web presence. We will endeavour to assist in delivering that. Please contact Bexley Natural Environment Forum Chair Ray Gray at <> if you want to get involved:


Response to the January 2013 consultation from London Assembly member Darren Johnson (Green), containing useful points about key data that should have been provided to the public to allow a properly considered view. This information, such as traffic and pollution projections and how these schemes would be funded, is still vague, whilst the ‘economic benefits’, according to the TfL consultation page are, of course, going to be marvellous and any damage to habitats can be sorted by ‘creating new ones’.

Darren Johnson’s overall submission:

Further points from Darren Johnson questioning failure to use tolls at Blackwall to test options for demand-management:

2014 consultation responses

Darren’s response to, and critique of, TfL’s 2014 consultation can be downloaded from:

In the interests of ‘political balance’ here at ‘BW’, here are the positions of other parties:

The Conservatives at the GLA are clearly in favour of bridges, and the leadership of Bexley council now appears to take the same position (see, for example, biased questions in the ‘Growth strategy’ consultation – you can have any flavour of bridge you like, as long as it’s a bridge’).

In the on-line piece here:

‘Bexley Council’s  [Conservative] cabinet member for environment and public realm Councillor Don Massey, said: “This particular idea appears to have a lot of merit, but there is no real detail for us to give any in depth response. We are, and will continue to be, working with the Mayor of London, Greater London Authority and Transport for London and other groups to develop this and other ideas – in particular a crossing at Belvedere – into something we can fully support.”

In the same article Labour’s Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce has an even less nuanced position, saying ……. ‘I’ll take any crossing and a transport link you can give me.” She went on: “I have the longest stretch of Thames of any constituency and not a single river crossing. We need a proper 21st century transport system and, in my patch, we don’t have one.”

Other 2014 responses:

Ralph Todd, noted local wildlife conservationist, on the damaging effects of bridges and the wider traffic implications:

Chris Rose personal response to TfL on-line consultation:

Other useful documents:

Evidence to House of Commons Transport Committee on Strategic River Crossings. By John Elliott, with substantial assistance from Keith Buchan and Professors Phil Goodwin, and John Whitelegg (written 19/9/2014):

They said: 4.2. We believe there is substantial evidence that the main effects of strategic transport infrastructure and particularly roads, without associated and comprehensive demand management and strict land use planning, is to encourage:

  • dispersal of populations,
  • more development on green field rather than brown field sites,
  • lower density car orientated developments,
  • considerable extra traffic on the road network
  • often a worse environment and
  • worse transport for those without the availability of a car.

4.3 We believe there is very little evidence of regeneration and accordingly we would ask your committee to consider that any discussion of river crossings be put into an evidence-based context and that scheme promoters be required to produce rigorous before and after studies of bridges and tunnels in the UK and the EU to provide hard evidence of local  economic benefits/disbenefits.

World health Organisation report (2013) on the health effects of particulate matter:

Previous ‘Thames Gateway Bridge’ proposals. Case for objectors regarding  ‘regeneration’. Final evidence. 2005.

Previous ‘Thames Gateway Bridge’ proposals. Alternatives and Options for Improving Public Transport. 2008. 

Grounds for opposition to bridges in and near to Bexley

Local environmentalists are opposing the bridge proposals on the grounds of an inevitable increase in traffic, pollution and the ensuing pressure for  road-widening through Lesnes Abbey Woods, a Metropolitan Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.

The idea that delivering ‘hyper-connectivity’ for an ever-increasing population will contribute to sustainability is clearly irrational. Bridges will have a huge financial and carbon cost of construction (inevitably ignored) and will lead to increased CO2 emissions.

What purports to be a report on the potential impacts of various Rainham – Belvedere crossing options mind-numbingly states that ‘The environmental effect of traffic would also have to consider the roads serving the crossing and any reallocation of trips as drivers altered their journey patterns plus the traffic generated by growth. This is outside the current scope of this report.’ In fact the consultation page itself carries diagrams predicting traffic growth on a number of Bexley roads if crossings are built.

According to London Assembly member Darren Johnson. ‘London’s traffic has declined by 7% over the last decade and on current trends the city could see a 15-20% decline by the time the bridge is built. ….. So why build new roads to cope with fewer car trips? ‘

Bexley Council – ducking and diving

Bexley Council was, in practice, opposed too because it didn’t want more traffic, and more traffic will be an inevitable result of fixed links. Now it is trying to face both ways, with its ‘Growth vision’ (aka more cars and concrete) document plainly biased in favour of bridges, and the Council magazine for Summer 2014 saying that the ‘The Council supports the principle of new river crossings’ (in the context of announcements about a second bridge at Belvedere) and that they could ‘Reduce transport congestion’.  There is no mention of ferry options, so despite what appears to be deliberate ambiguity, we are forced to conclude from totality of its public pronouncements on these matters that it does mean fixed road links.

‘Access’ to thousands more jobs (note, not ‘more jobs’ per se) is promised by TfL, but are these not ‘notional’ jobs in that they are already taken? And in any event it works both ways – people in Essex would be more easily able to nip over and take up jobs in Bexley.

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