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EDITIONS
Monday, 24 June, 2002, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
Second tunnel 'could be disaster'
Tyne Tunnel
About 34,000 vehicles use the Tyne Tunnel every day
Plans for a second traffic tunnel under the River Tyne have been criticised by environmental campaigners.

South Tyneside Friends of the Earth say people living up to four miles away will be affected by noise pollution.

They say the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) have admitted that traffic levels could rise by 25%.

But a spokesman for the Tyne Tunnel told BBC News Online that the projected vehicle numbers would happen with or without the new tunnel.


Car numbers are going to increase regardless whether the tunnel is built or not

Second Tyne Tunnel spokesman

The spokesman said they were looking into claims by Friends of the Earth of noise pollution.

An application for the second tunnel - just east of the existing Tyne Tunnel, between Jarrow in South Tyneside and Howden in North Tyneside - has already been submitted.

Members of the public have until 19 July to object to the Secretary of State Margaret Beckett, about the road building scheme.

It is expected that Ms Beckett will call a public inquiry.

South Tyneside Friends of the Earth spokesman Bryan Atkinson said hundreds of people would be unaware that the plans could affect them.

Property values

He said the application demonstrates that a new tunnel would be a "disaster" for Tyneside.

"Understandably we have been approached by residents living in Jarrow who are concerned with the health implications for themselves and their children as well as the negative effects on their property values.

"The application documents make it clear that the impacts of another road tunnel will be felt much further a field.

"When the road lobby admit that a new tunnel will lead to a massive increase in traffic... it demonstrates what a potential disaster this tunnel will be for Tyneside.

"You can only begin to imagine how bad the traffic jams and air pollution will become in Jarrow and Hebburn."

"Let's be clear about this, a minimum of 25% increase in traffic doesn't just mean more noise, it also means more air pollution, more children with asthma, more accidents and more congestion."

'No secret'

But the spokesman for the new Tyne Tunnel told BBC News Online that the 25% increase was a long-term projection up to 2021.

He said the rise from 34,000 cars per day to 43,000 would not be as a direct of the tunnel.

"We have not made a secret of these figures.

"Car numbers are going to increase regardless whether the tunnel is built or not.

"At the moment, the tunnel only has 24,000 cars per day capacity, but takes 34,000 due to good management.

"We are planning to spend 139m on the new tunnel, what would be the point of doing that if we were not expecting car numbers to rise anyway."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Bryan Atkinson, Friends of the Earth
"Building more road space generates more journeys"

Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

24 Apr 02 | England
26 Apr 00 | UK
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