16 April 2015
GREEN CANDIDATES BACK CALL TO SAVE WOOLWICH FERRY
IN ESCALATING POLLUTION CRISIS
The Green Party parliamentary candidate for Greenwich and Woolwich, Abbey Akinoshun, today joined with Greenwich West local by-election hopeful Dr Robin Stott to support the call to save the Woolwich Ferry.
The historic free ferry is once more under threat of closure as part of Transport for London’s plans – backed by Labour-controlled Greenwich Council – to build a new road tunnel from the Greenwich Peninsula. The Green candidates agree with local campaigners that closing the ferry would add to the already intense pollution problems that plague this area by sending more heavy goods vehicles to the traffic bottleneck at the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel, where TfL is also proposing to build the new Silvertown Tunnel.
Signing the online petition calling for the preservation of the ferry link, Abbey Akinoshun said: “Removing the Woolwich Ferry would add to the pollution crisis at the base of the Greenwich Peninsula by re-routing HGVs through the tunnels. It’s hard not to conclude that Greenwich Council is more focused on the money it can make selling the river frontage for developers to build luxury apartments than it is on the health needs of its existing residents.”
The context for the threatened closure is the authorities’ long-standing ambition to build a new fixed road crossing in East London. It’s claimed that the ferry would no longer be necessary if lorries had another way of getting across the river, and that closing it would remove congestion from Woolwich at times when there are queues for the ferry. Various plans for a new crossing have been mooted. The Mayor of London, TfL and the Royal Borough of Greenwich now favour a road tunnel under the Thames from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks at Silvertown. This would start from the same place as the existing two Blackwall Tunnels, on the highly congested A102. TfL claims the new tunnel would ease the pressure on the existing ones, which in turn would reduce the tailbacks on the A102 that lead to gridlock in Greenwich and Charlton whenever a vehicle breaks down in the tunnel. But it has long been established that new roads generate extra traffic – just as the M25 filled up as soon as it was built and keep filling up every time it is widened.
Abbey Akinoshun said: “Supporters of the new tunnel tell us it would bring economic benefits, but how does creating traffic jams create jobs? If big roads mean economic progress in London, the Greenwich Peninsula ought to have thrived after the second Blackwall Tunnel opened in the Sixties. Actually the reverse happened, and it was only the arrival of good public transport links in the shape of the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee Line that halted decades of decline.”
Dr Robin Stott, a former consultant physician who now co-chairs the Climate and Health Council and is tipped to become the first-ever Green on Greenwich Council at a by-election on May 7, said closing the ferry, with or without a new fixed crossing, would worsen the environmental health crisis in the Royal Borough.
“Air pollution is a major problem both locally and globally,” he said. “Indoor air pollution is responsible for 7 million deaths globally each year, and outdoor air pollution a similar number. In the UK 29,000 deaths each year are attributable to air pollution, and in the worst polluted parts of London, like Greenwich, air pollution plays a major role in one in 12 deaths. Improving air quality in London means reducing fossil fuel related transport of all kinds, as well as ensuring that all green spaces are enhanced.”
Studies by the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign, which the Greenwich Green Party supports, recently found that people across south-east London are living with air pollution levels of as much as two-and-a-half times over European legal limits. Pollution and congestion around the A102 are already set to get much worse as the award-winning, eco-friendly Sainsbury’s at Bugsby’s Way is demolished to make way for an Ikea superstore, which will be further away from a train or tube station than any of the Swedish furniture retailer’s other London stores. Despite this, the Labour-run council has already granted planning permission.
Dr Robin Stott said: “In the context of the terrible air quality we already have, planning permission for a new store ought to have required it to decrease the existing amount of emissions, as well as improve work opportunities and stimulate local production. Indeed any policy that supposes an increase in fossil-fuel-related traffic should not be acceptable. All this is why Greenwich urgently needs a Green.”
CONTACT DETAILS FOR MEDIA ONLY NOT FOR PUBLICATION:
For further information contact Green Green Party press officer Simon Edge: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07765 898650
Press Release: here
Save the Woolwich Ferry Facebook page: here
38 Degrees Petition: here
News Shopper Article: here