Memorandum submitted by Friends of the
1. Friends of the Earth exists to protect
and improve the conditions for life on Earth, now and for the
future. Friends of the Earth is one of the largest international
environmental networks in the world, with over 50 groups across
five continents. It is one of the UK's most influential national
environmental pressure groups, and has a unique network of campaigning
local groups, working in 250 communities throughout England, Wales
and Northern Ireland.
2. Jennifer Bates is currently co-ordinator
of Greenwich Friends of the Earth, and as such also speaks for
Friends of the Earth on Greenwich Millennium issues.
3. Summary of some key suggestions
Transport: more local involvement needed in
developing transport strategy:
Woolwich Arsenal must be park-and-sail
River transport should be part of
the travelcard system;
Sainsbury's food and non-food retail
car parking on the Greenwich Peninsula site must be drastically
Content of MEX and finance and sponsorship for
sponsors being zone specific and
having control of zone content must be rethought and arrangements
sponsorship still to be sought should
be critically assessed.
Plans for use of the Dome after the year 2000:
proper involvement of local stakeholders
in this matter.
4. Request to present oral evidence on the
matter presented below
5. Transport and ticketing arrangements for
the Millennium Experience (MEX)
We refer you to our submission to the Committee's
previous inquiry, but make the following specific points below.
6. Despite its World Heritage Site status
and famous buildings, Greenwich is a downhill, downstream and
downwind borough, and as such suffers from bad pollution and has
above average asthma levels. In the context of the Road Traffic
Reduction Act along with the National Air Quality Strategy/Local
Air Quality Management, the London Planning Advisory Committee
has published a proposed strategy for reducing road traffic in
London and suggested a figure of 25 per cent traffic reduction
for LB Greenwich (by 2005, based on 1997 levels).
7. The importance of MEX's transport strategy
for the exhibition year and for the legacy it leaves cannot be
underestimated. We advocate the principle that people should think
"to visit the Dome is to leave your car at home". We
believe the cost of tickets to the Dome should reflect the mode
of travel used. We understand that the Earth Centre in Doncaster
is planning to offer in the region of 40 per cent discount for
those arriving by foot, cycle, train, busas opposed to
8. What we need and what would be a proper
legacy, would be to set in place a comprehensive and integrated
transport plan for the whole region (north and south-east London)
that would build traffic reduction, developed with the full participation
of the local stakeholders.
9. A crucial element of the above would
be to put in place an improved network of local buses to feed
people of the region into their local transport hubstrain
or tube station or pierso that they can travel all the
way to MEX by public transport. Local residents on Blackwall Lane,
however, are concerned that the road is taking the brunt as an
access route. There should be reallocation of roadspace to give
safer pedestrian facilities and segregated cycle routes. We feel
that the A102M should be downgraded from an M-road (whereby widening
from three to four lanes in parts currently being undertaken would
be unnecessary due to reduced speeds). Whatever happens one lane
should be a bus lane in each direction, and this linked in with
10. Train services should be upgraded with
more and later running trains. There are local concerns about
the transit link interchange being constructed at Charlton station
including the only local bank being under threat.
11. River transport services are a very
welcome part of the MEX transport strategy but it seems ridiculous
that it is due to be a premium service and not part of the travelcard
system. The Committee's report of July 98 notes how a MEX river
service could stimulate the establishment of a permanent river
passenger service as a legacy. The previous river boat service
which collapsed was also not part of the Travelcard system.
12. As one of the five massive purpose built
park-and-ride/sail sites originally planned, Woolwich Arsenal
is still being pursued. Whereas we oppose these sites, this one
at least had the benefit of being park-and-sail. The New Millennium
Experience Company (NMEC) now want to serve it with a shuttle
bus, but this should not be allowed to happen. The ridiculous
idea of using Falconwood Fieldan area of supposedly protected
Metropolitan Open Landas a park-and-ride has nominally
been dropped, but must be completely withdrawn.
13. The Controlled Parking Zones around
the Dome will be an essential part of the strategy, but many locals
have been left confused between these and various traffic management
options for the area, also being considered. There have been many
calls that consultation was mishandled. There should be reappraisal
of what people want now, and a chance to re-evaluate once MEX
14. It should be noted that the Jubilee
Line Extension (JLE) though essential now for MEX is not a legacy
of MEXindeed British Gas paid in excess of £20 million
to London Underground to secure the station at a time when it
would benefit any regeneration plans for the sitetheir
own or any other.
15. Sainsbury's have been applying for car
parking spaces for their food and non-food retail development
on a part of the same millennium site. LB Greenwich have now agreed
up to 850 spaces with the idea that they will voluntarily be reduced
over time. In view of the need for traffic reduction and NMEC's
attempts to produce a car-free site, this figure should be drastically
reduced. The UDP minimum would be 175, but under revised standards
according to Government guidance, the figure would be between
16 and 54 for such a development.
16. The Committee's report of July 98 said
"we urge the Government to bear in mind that the support
and involvement of the local community are likely to be integral
to the success of the transport strategy and to ensure that the
concerns voiced in evidence to this Committee are listened to
and, where appropriate, acted upon as the strategy evolves".
We were looking forward to more involvement, but this has not
been the case, and in this absence matters were discussed at a
meeting arranged by the Greenwich Sustainable Millennium Network
(of which the author is a member) on 7 December 1998 with representatives
of NMEC, LB Greenwich, local business and community representatives.
More involvement and cooperation must be arranged.
17. Content of MEX and finance and sponsorship
arrangements for NMEC
These topics are taken together because sadly
they have become completely linked in reality.
18. The Dome is ending up with the potential
to be effectively permanent, but it should have been conceived
with that possibility from the start. Local stakeholders should
have been involved from day one in planning what could be useful
and appropriate to that site and to the people of Greenwich afterwards,
and this integrated with requirements for a Millennium Exhibition.
19. Perhaps the project might have been
smaller (if only to reduce transport demands). Why do we need
14 zones anyway? A small project might have required less or no
corporate finance. Any corporate funding should have gone into
a central fund and could have been used, for instance, for solar
panels for the Dome roof, or something with real symbolism and
substance for 21st century living.
20. Instead we have the symbolism and reality
of corporate dominance of our society. We seem desperate to claw
back £12 million from corporations who might be keen to endear
themselves to New Labour to sponsor a zone in the Dome, and in
the process we turn MEX into a virtual trade fairand a
part lotteryfunded one at that.
21. There is serious concern over the sponsors'
links with lobbying firms and their links with Government. For
instance, it was reported (Observer 26/7/98) that lobbying firm
LLMinvolved in campaigning on behalf of Tesco to block
plans for a tax on car spaceshad "suggested that a
£12 million Tesco donation to the Millennium Dome was part
of a "quid pro quo deal"giving its support to
a Government project in order to endear itself to New Labour".
The paper went on to say that there is no suggestion that Tesco
made the Dome donation to help it get its way over the car park
tax issue. But the plan to impose the tax was dropped from last
week's White Paper on transportand the terms of the exemption
were exactly as LLM's Ben Lucas had suggested. The Sunday Times
of 12/7/98 said that the estimated cost to Tesco of the car park
tax would have been £40 million.
22. Sponsors clearly see funding as directly
beneficial. BAe and GEC seem to see it as a recruiting fair "if
we are able to excite even one in 10 of the Mind Zone's younger
visitors about the possibilities of a career in science and technology,
then our sponsorship will have been more than worthwhile"
say GEC. McDonalds talk about "our restaurants (around the
country) will be a focal point as communities research, plan and
prepare to perform their stories at the Millennium Dome"
(for "our town story" that they are sponsoring). To
nobody's surprise it seems they will be able to have McDonalds
catering at the Dome. To minimise waste from the 80,000 meals
projected to be served every day at the Dome, we have been calling
for catering licences to only be given where proper washable crockery
and cutlery would be used. If any takeaway food was considered
essential we advocated the best option to be researched which
could be compostable materials or a common form of washable material
which could be communally washed and redistributed.
23. The fact that founding sponsors (those
putting in £12 million) are zone-specific, and seem to be
commanding control of the zone they sponsor, we feel is totally
unacceptable. For instance it was reported (Independent on Sunday
15/11/98) that Ford, due to sponsor the Mobility Zone, will be
given "market exclusivity" so that only Ford cars would
be shown. The Mobility Zone is supposed to examine the advantages
and disadvantages of different types of transport including walking,
cycling and rail, as well as motor vehicles. Just how unbiased
can we expect this examination to be? We feel the whole area of
control of zone content by sponsors must be rethought, and just
what arrangements and rights are organised must be made transparent.
24. There is still more sponsorship being
sought, but what are we prepared to do to bring them on board?
Already it seems as if zones are devised to suit potential sponsors.
Originally there were nine zones, now there are 14. "Mobility"
(due to be Ford) was never originally proposed, nor was "Learn"
(Tesco's zone), or "communicate" (BT).
25. Is there any sponsor we wouldn't accept?
We already are due to have fossil fuel guzzling and climate changing
Ford. They belong to the Global Climate Coalition which was fighting
meaningful agreement at the Kyoto climate change talks while John
Prescott was fighting for their successand yet we welcome
them to support our national exhibition. We also have traffic-generating
and local shop and employment threatening Tesco, waste-producing
and wage depressing McDonalds, arms manufacturing GEC/BAe. I'm
just surprised we haven't got the tobacco industry. In fact even
this possibility is on the cards as the Ministry of Sound, whose
Chairman James Palumbo is a friend of Peter Mandelson, proposed
to the Government that it take over the Spirit Zone in the Dome.
The Ministry of Sound have sponsorship deals with BAT.
26. Plans to use the Dome after the year 2000
As voiced above, we feel that local stakeholders
should have been involved from day one in planning if the dome
should be permanent and if so what could be useful and appropriate
for that site and for the people of Greenwich afterwards (and
this integrated with requirements for MEX).
27. This didn't happen and the Dome was
conceived as a temporary structure, with planning permission granted
for a temporary exhibition. However the 11th hour change of roof
material (to a still dubious but probably better substance) means
the Dome could be effectively permanent. Since the land use plan
for the Dome area indicates "leisure" for future use,
as long as the Dome had a leisure use in future (and most suggested
uses do), it seems as if further planning permission would be
granted. Whereas we are glad that the Dome is not now so throwaway,
this means that we in Greenwich could be stuck with the Dome;
we could have the Dome dumped on us by the back door.
28. There might be all sorts of knock-on
effects arising from the Dome being permanent, such as the potential
problems from ongoing transport requirements. Would any future
use demand the ongoing use of the giant park-and-ride sites, or
the ongoing use of the coach park at the millennium site? The
latter is due to be developed as housing afterwards to join up
with the Millennium Village.
29. Being left with the Dome, if it happens,
will have taken place without the proper participation by local
stakeholders. There was some public consultationsome meetings
and exhibitions and a chance to comment, but essentially this
was just information dissemination on what had already been decided.
And even this was on the basis of it being temporary. There has
been some ongoing dialogue with a restricted number of local organisations
(groups such as ourselves excluded), but this has not been adequate.
Even the conference organised by Docklands Forum for NMEC on 8
December 1998 was wall to wall speeches with no time for questions.
30. As far as the future is concerned, is
there going to be any proper participation of local stakeholders
in deciding what happens to the Dome after MEX, or are we going
to have a plan imposed on us with little more than a chance to
comment after it has been drawn up? It was reported (Independent
10/7/98) that Mandelson had revealed that a committee of civil
servants had been set up to ponder what happens to the Dome after
2000, but it seems that neither the Government, English Partnerships,
or NMEC have seen fit to launch an initiative to involve local
stakeholders. In this vacuum Docklands Forum have initiated an
exploratory consultation exercise on what locals would like to
see happen to the Dome (and it seems most people want a flexible
or mixed use). Apparently NMEC were offered involvement and didn't
grasp it, but are now interested in the results. A full scale,
wide ranging, proper participation exercise should start now involving
the local stakeholders on whether the Dome should stay, and if
so how it should be used. The results should have real weight
and bearing on what happens.
31. The Dome and the millennium site should
be a good legacy for Greenwich, but in fact rather than regeneration
developing properly, development has been rushed through off the
back of the Dome. A political decision to have some part of the
Millennium Village built so that visitors to the Dome can also
visit the village has meant that it has been pushed through with
proper participation of local people squeezed out. Local community
participation is as much part of building a sustainable community
as the energy efficiency that the village is so proud of. The
nuclear reactor in the Royal Naval College is being decommissioned
"in time for the millennium celebrations", again without
local people being properly involved (at the public meeting that
option, only one of the four, was already decided on). It seems
the building itself is not needed for any celebrations, rather
they would prefer the discharges of radioactive waste into the
sewers and air of Greenwich had finished by the time people come
32. We are concerned that long after the
millennium celebrations are over, the local people will feel the
legacy of muddled planning as the so-called regeneration of the
Greenwich Peninsula site has been rushed through. We feel that
far from being a model of regeneration, it has not been sustainable
regeneration, and that some of the worst 20th century mistakes
have been repeated on this supposedly flagship 21st century site.