A few comments necessary on the SoS recovered appeal for Slade Green Erith. This was the last SFRI standing of the three considered in a variety of appeals running back over a decade.
The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that in the 2007 decision it was identified that there was no alternative development site, a finding which attracted considerable weight in favour of that scheme (IR4.2). However, since 2007 the London Gateway, a brownfield site not located in the Green Belt, has been developed. For the reasons given in IR15.8.18 to 15.8.24, the Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s conclusions that the London Gateway site has the potential to provide an alternative
development option for the provision of a SRFI to serve the same part of London and the South East as the appeals proposal
London Gateway, a former oil refinery, has rapidly become the major employment/distribution centre to the East of London, together with the adjoining Thames Enterprise Park. Another former refinery.
This has been done without any strategy this far, whether London, Thames Gateway/Esturay or South Essex. Hence it is not connected to South of the River, and there is no means of importing rail freight at the Thames Estuary and forging a rail bound route that avoids London Roads.
Here is the great missed strategic planning opportunity. The Governments recent Thames Estuary 2050 report response is dismissive of a multi modal crossing at Tilbury referring to early options on the East London Riving Crossing, when neither housing growth (potentially several new towns in size) nor an SFRI was a twinkle in anyone’s eye.
A multi modal crossing plus a link to Crossrail could mean that freight could cross under London at night by rail and even link to Heathrow, where there is the potential for a unique Air/Rial/Road Railfreight interchange to the West of Heathrow. A link to HS2 at Tilbury offers the potential to nightime links through to the North West using the East Coast mainline and also railfreight depots in the East Midlands using the ECML, ECML and HS2 at night to direct freight through to London Gateway and the continent by rail. In the light of the increased prominence of freight in planning where is the atregic plan for railfreight and how it links to major transport and employment prposals in emerging startegic plans?