British Waterways is investing £18.9 million in a new lock to give access to the waterways around the Olympic Park site.
The decision will allow a lock and water-control structure to be built in the Prescott Channel and Bow Back Rivers which run next to the 2012 Olympic Park. The investment will make the existing waterway, which is tidal, usable by freight barges of up to 350-tonnes capacity, which are able to transport the construction materials and waste from the forthcoming development of the site.
The new lock will enable two barges to be towed together carrying up to a maximum of 700 tonnes of materials through the waterway. The barges will carry up to 7,000 tonnes of construction materials a day.
Lobby group Sea and Water calculates that as a result, taking the Olympics construction phase as a whole, around 140,000 lorry journeys would be taken off London’s roads, and there would be a saving of 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, chair of the Transport Select Committee said: “This is a real advance. It will free the roads of large numbers of lorries and transform the situation for freight on water. I am delighted with this development.”
The use of the Lea Valley watercourses for the transport of freight can be traced back to medieval times and fell into disuse after WWII. The presence of the waterways means that the road infrastructure is less developed in East London.
Low carbon, low waste, green transport and high re-use of materials during construction are key parts of the Olympic Delivery Authority strategy to ensure that the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are both built and remembered as the greenest games in modern times.
The key parts of the strategy include:
l Transport and mobility: To aspire to 50 per cent of construction materials to be transported to the Park by water and rail and to prioritise walking, cycling and the use of public transport to and within the Olympic Park and venues, including building over 80km of walking and cycling routes.
l Climate change: Aiming to minimise the carbon emissions associated with the Olympic Park and venues through a 50 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide by 2013.
l Waste and materials: To reduce waste through design – 90 per cent of demolition material to be reused or recycled and at least 20 per cent of materials used in permanent venues and associated works and the Olympic Village to be recycled.
l Water: To ensure efficient water use, reuse and recycling.