New lock will take pressure off London's busy roads and help to smooth traffic flow

05 June 2009
"'By shifting noisy, dusty and heavily polluting freight vehicles from busy roads onto water, we can free up traffic and drastically improve the quality of our environment"

'By shifting noisy, dusty and heavily polluting freight vehicles from busy roads onto water, we can free up traffic and drastically improve the quality of our environment

TfL has welcomed the opening of the new Three Mills Lock in Bromley-by-Bow today.

The new facilities will enable freight operators to bypass London's already busy roads and use the network of waterways in and around the Olympic Park as a more sustainable, and environmentally friendly, way of moving goods into and around the Capital.

The opening of the lock helps TfL fulfil a key mayoral priority to smooth traffic flow on London's roads as it can accommodate barges that weigh up to 350 tonnes, the equivalent of taking 17 lorries off the roads.

The new lock, belonging to British Waterways, has been specifically built with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in mind.

Long-term benefit

Tens of thousands of tonnes of construction material and waste will now be able to be transported to the 2012 Games site in east London by barges resulting in significantly fewer numbers of construction lorries trundling along London's roads in the lead up to the games.

After the 2012 Games, a legacy of freight facilities will be left behind for the long-term benefit of London's freight industry.

TfL contributed £4m to the project, along with contributions from six other partners, including the Department for Transport and London Development Agency.

Encouraging freight operators to consider more sustainable ways to operate is one of the priorities of TfL's London Freight Plan.

Wider environmental benefits

Hundreds of freight vehicles travel along local roads in London each day.

If a percentage of these can be shifted onto the waterways it will free up much needed road capacity.

Using the waterways to transport freight also produces less carbon dioxide than is generated by road transport, producing wider environmental benefits from this investment.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'The revitalisation of this network of canals after decades of decline heralds a new age of water transport in the Capital.

Free up traffic

'By shifting noisy, dusty and heavily polluting freight vehicles from busy roads onto water, we can free up traffic and drastically improve the quality of our environment.

'This vital investment means a steady flow of boats will soon be carrying a substantial proportion of the materials needed to create the Olympic Park that would otherwise have travelled by road, sealing a legacy beyond the duration of the Games themselves.'

Ben Plowden, TfL's Director of Integrated Programme Delivery, said:  'We want to encourage the shift from road transport to water transport as much as we can.

'Getting construction lorries and other freight vehicles off of London's busy roads and onto the waterways is a step towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way to operate around the Capital.

Less congested

'The 350 tonne barges that use the lock can each carry 17 lorry loads worth of material. 

'This will free up much needed capacity and contribute to the Mayor's priority of making the Capital's roads less congested and flowing more smoothly.'

The new Three Mills Lock was opened today, World Environment Day, by the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who travelled into the lock on a flotilla of boats alongside representatives from each of the project partners, including TfL.


Notes to editors:

  • The opening of the Three Mills Lock in Bromley-by-Bow was a joint project between TfL, British Waterways, London Development Agency, Department for Transport, London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Olympics Delivery Authority
  • The London Freight Plan is the result of a collaborative partnership between the London Sustainable Distribution Partnership, TfL, the London boroughs and key businesses, freight operators and industry associations. It was published in January 2008 and can be downloaded at www.tfl.gov.uk/freightplan