COUNCILLORS are calling on plans for the Thames Gateway Bridge to place more emphasis on public transport.

The consultation deadline for the £425m bridge, spanning the River Thames between Thamesmead and Beckton, is on Thursday.

Last month, Greenwich Council's cabinet committee agreed to support the principle of the bridge but was expected to object to a Side Roads Order at a meeting at Woolwich Town Hall yesterday.

The Sides Road Order authorises bus lanes across the bridge, changes to minor roads and connections between the proposed bridge and other highways.

But a council report states the order should give greater consideration to public transport, renewable energy and air quality issues.

Among the points noted are that buses approaching the bridge will not be able to access the segregated public transport lanes on the bridge unless they go on a detour via minor roads such as Barnham Drive or Battery Road, Thamesmead.

The report also states the proposed connection between the bus lanes and the existing public highway at Hill View Drive and Battery Road is "considered unacceptable" as both are minor residential roads and have not been designed for public transport routes.

The cabinet committee was also expected to object to the Toll Order, which is required to authorise Transport for London to collect tolls on the bridge.

The council report suggests the order should define the nature of discounted tolls for residents.

And it adds the order should define further categories of vehicles, such as those using only renewable energy, which may be granted reduced tolls for environmental reasons.

New structure may be too low

THE proposed Thames Gateway Bridge could be too low for large ships to pass underneath, according to the Port of London Authority.

The bridge's 70-metre height is at the limit of what aviation authorities will tolerate as aeroplanes which use London City Airport fly over the area where the bridge could be built.

But Geoff Adam, from the Port of London Authority, says lowering the bridge could bar some ships of the future.

He said: "If they bring the bridge down lower for aircraft navigation reasons, it will effectively close the port to certain ships. Our concern is that cruise ships are tending to get higher. We've got Europe's largest sugar refinery on the river and their ships are also getting bigger."

Transport for London says all the ships currently using this part of the river including Invincible class aircraft carriers, cruise ships and ships used by Tate & Lyle could safely pass under the bridge.

A spokesman said: "The difficulty if there were bigger ships would not be the height of the bridge but the depth of the river just 11 metres in Barking Reach area."