§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he will take to minimise the damage to Eltham and to Oxleas Wood of the road to the proposed east London river crossing.
§ Mr. MacGregor
The Government remain fully committed to meeting the need for a new road link across the Thames in east London as a key element in the strategy 157W to regenerate the east Thames corridor. However, following a reappraisal we have been undertaking, the Transport Minister for London and I have decided that the current scheme, designed and chosen some time ago, fails to meet the high environmental standards we now apply to new road schemes.
We have therefore decided not to proceed with current plans. We shall examine alternative solutions which meet the same strategic objectives, but which will have less impact on the local environment. We will bring forward new proposals for the scheme and in so doing will explore opportunities for greater involvement by the private sctor and a design competition for the bridge over the Thames, as suggested by the Royal Fine Arts Commission.
This decision is quite independent of the infraction proceedings instigated by the European Commission. The Government remain clear that the environmental impact assessment directive should not apply to projects which were in the pipeline when it came into force, and it will continue to contest the proceedings brought by the Commission.