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Other Immediate Priorities.

Second on the list of immediate priorities is the need to decide on the location of a new hub international airport with an annual capacity of 150 million, whether in the Thames Estuary area or elsewhere, and to press ahead as fast as possible.

Third is to forge ahead with the new relief sewer down the route of the river-bed and to modernise the existing distribution and sewage system at a much faster pace than hitherto.

Fourth is the construction of new reservoirs upriver to ensure the ample provision of clean fresh water.

Fifth is the construction of new river crossings including a new road tunnel connecting the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks and a new vehicle ferry between Beckton and Thamesmead.

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New Opportunities: Wake Up, London!

The biggest new opportunity is to re-evaluate these five projects in the light of their impact on each other. There are immense savings to be made if the five projects can dovetail into each other. At present the custodians of each of the projects tend to present themselves as being in competition with each other for funds and government approval. If they were all five moving forward together simultaneously and cooperatively, a whole raft of new options opens up. There may indeed be opportunities for example for the Isle of Grain airport to generate its own tide-based electricity and for its design to be an integral part of surge-flood control. The exposure of the Medway conurbation to surge-tide flooding might be alleviated and the vast areas of the Medway and Swale River salt-marshes gradually recovered for development.

The Benefits of Co-ordination.

If the location of the replacement barrier or barrage can be settled and the flow of the London River fully controlled, the superfluous shallows of the River, at present many square miles of unappealing mud at low tide, could be gradually walled off and sold off, piece by piece, for development, leisure use and new manufacturing and new industries. First, the Great Sewer project can consider the option of a much cheaper, more accessible and shallower route up the abandoned river-bed and its extension further downriver – just what Bazalgette achieved behind his new wall along the Victoria Embankment; there he found space not only for his North Bank sewer but what is now the District and Central Underground line. The possibility of new road or rail routes, or both, following the River -conventional, underground or overhead – would offer major relief to London’s traffic problems. It could give the metropolis a new central artery and relief for the congested M25 ring-road motorway and the North and South Circular Roads. The cleansing of the River offers wide new opportunities for leisure use and amenities – new riverside parks, new marinas, dinghy, sailing and rowing clubs, new athletics centres and swimming-pools. Perhaps, in another forty years, our grandchildren and their children might even be launching new aquatic sports on the River and, unthinkable and at present vigorously discouraged on health grounds, possibly even river swimming clubs.

River Passenger Services.

At the present, there is one spectacular success. We already have a splendid new fast river passenger service running frequently and reliably between Westminster and Woolwich. The authorities and operators deserve credit for this achievement.

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