GREENWICH planning board was expected to give the Thames Gateway Bridge the green light yesterday.

Councillors were due to give full planning permission for the construction of the £425m bridge, spanning the River Thames between Thamesmead and Beckton, when they met at Woolwich Town Hall.

The bridge will provide a four-lane dual carriageway, two lanes in each direction, for general traffic as well as two segregated public transport lanes and a further lane for pedestrians and cyclists.

All elements of the scheme, including a remodelled road junction at Eastern Way, were due for approval, with the exception of the design of the bridge and approaches. These will be submitted to the planning board at a later stage.

A council report states the bridge will bring reduced journey times, create greater accessibility to jobs and push forward the borough's economic growth.

The bridge would be opened around 2012, with construction starting in 2008.

And it will be tolled for general traffic, probably through camera technology in a similar way to central London's Congestion Charge scheme.

Transport for London is expected to adopt a £2 toll with a 50 per cent discount for residents.

A Low Emission Zone could be introduced to prevent the most polluting commercial vehicles from using the bridge while zero, or reduced, tolls could be given to low-emission vehicles.

Critics of the scheme claim the bridge will bring extra traffic, pollution and noise. Almost 1,300 letters of objection have been received with the majority living in Bexley, particularly in the area around Brampton Road.

A petition with 368 signatures, mostly from Bexleyheath and Welling residents, calls for a public inquiry.

Jennifer Bates, London co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth, told News Shopper a public inquiry is needed as residents had not been properly consulted about the scheme.

She said: "The more people in Greenwich hear about this scheme the less they want it."