The campaigners who halted Boris’s cable car

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.


  1. i seem to remember that the crash zone came up during the thames gateway bridge fiasco… i’d be curious to know what the crash zone actually includes?

  2. On our side, West Thamesmead, basically. The rest of the crash zone is a north-of-the river affair. I’ve got maps, so will return to this.

  3. Isn’t it just a teeny bit hypocritical that FoE object to the expansion of the airport and then use the expansion of the airport to object to something else?

    Or is that yet another example of the NIMBYs wanting to have their cake and eat it?

  4. It’s a good thing that residents are aware of the Governments Policy on developments in Public Safety Zones, because it appears that are paid to do so appear not to be aware, or choose not to be.

    You can’t help but question those officers and elected individuals suitability for their roles when they make such errors of judgment over such crucial safety issues. It is quite a disgrace and a worrying indication of what other risks these people might take with unsuspecting members of the public to get their wish list items in place.

  5. At least someone is keeping an eye out on the councils and other bodies who sign off what seem good ideas without looking into all the details.
    When you really look at all the details here it’s very embarrassing for Boris Johnson, TFL, LB Greenwich and LB Newham.
    I’ll say it again the Cable Car is a great idea and we need more river crossings in the East but you’ll find all the best solutions will run into safety issues as London City Airport has been allowed to grow to BIG in Esat & SE London

  6. Hilly.
    Yes the piece were people live. Greenwich Council is currently informing them that their homes are now in a crash zone.

  7. Sorry,Greenwich Council aren’t informing the home owners of the 34 homes that are now in the crash zone: it’s the Civil Aviation Authority who are.

    Greenwich Council approved expansion of flights at the airport but didn’t think to tell the residents that one of the implications would be that their homes would be in the crash zone. How about that for a caring council?

  8. darren – this defies belief. which came first, the houses or the crash zone? in either case, it appears that something has gone terribly wrong.

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