As Adam reports on The Scoop, the London Cable Car scheme from Greenwich to the Royal Docks has been halted because of safety concerns. It’s a startling development, considering Transport for London was confident the proposal was safe, despite passing through the crash zone of London City Airport.
The hold-up is down to the tenacity of Poplar-based campaigner Alan Haughton and Friends of the Earth‘s Jenny Bates, who have monitored the proposal since it was announced last summer. They claim government safety guidance on such “public safety zones” has been ignored. To put their objections in context, FoE has also backed campaigners who want to stop the airport’s expansion – and Haughton has harried Newham Council on its handling of this, along with the Thamesmead based Fight The Flights group.
I met them at the Greenwich Council planning hearing last month, but our chat was interrupted by a furious Richard De Cani – Transport for London’s strategy director – challenging their claims, even though de Cani had already done his job by winning planning permission, assuring councillors that neither the Civil Aviation Authority nor London City Airport had objected to the scheme.
But Haughton and Bates didn’t give up, and after Greenwich followed Newham and the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (which is responsible for part of the land in Silvertown) in backing the scheme, they badgered the media with their case – resulting in today’s embarrassing news for City Hall. Now National Air Traffic Services will review the situation and report back to TfL.
Haughton said: “Boris Johnson’s desire to see a Cable Car across the Thames for 2012 is an Olympic sized mess. The planning application has ignored key safety guidelines and objections. Newham Council supported the London City Airport expansion and were fully aware of the increased Public Safety Zone. Newham Council want two bites of the same cherry regardless of the potential human cost.”
TfL is confident the scheme will go ahead and in time for the Olympics – but with a timetable that was already looking extremely tight, that’s now got to be in serious doubt.