Mayor to press ahead with ‘polluting’ Thames tunnel

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced that he will press ahead with plans to build the Silvertown Tunnel in East London, despite critics claiming that the development will encourage pollution.

Frederic Legrand - COMEO

The Mayor of London is pressing ahead with plans for the tunnel in East London. (Picture: Frederic Legrand – COMEO)

The Mayor has claimed the tunnel which would create a four-lane trunk road linking the Greenwich peninsula and Silvertown will improve cross-river connectivity, reduce congestion and support business growth.

However, opponents claim the development will encourage more traffic and pollution.

On Tuesday (4 October) the Mayor set out a package of new river crossings to be built in the next five to 10 years in the East and South East of London — including the Silvertown crossing, for which ‘improvements’ were made in a bid to mitigate air quality impacts of the development.

Proposals have also been outlined for pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Rotherhithe & Canary Wharf to be accelerated, a DLR crossing at Gallions Reach, further assessment work for a Barking Riverside-Abbey Wood London Overground crossing as well as a North Greenwich-Isle of Dogs ferry.

‘Greener transport link’

The Mayor said: “It’s no secret that London has long needed more river crossings in the east. With new homes and economic growth across East London, it becomes even more important that we deliver new greener transport links that allow Londoners to cross the river quickly and more easily.

“But we don’t want these to have a damaging impact on our environment, and that’s why I’ve reviewed and improved plans for Silvertown Tunnel and why I’m pushing forward with crossings that encourage public transport, walking and cycling.”

Enhancements to the plans to help mitigate potential air quality impacts include the tunnel being one of London’s low emission bus zones when it opens, reduced road use by construction vehicles with 55% of all material set to be carried via the river and pedestrian and cycling improvements on both sides of the tunnel entrance.

Plans for the proposed Silvertown Tunnel (source: TfL)

Plans for the proposed Silvertown Tunnel (source: TfL)

The proposed tunnel was consulted on last year and following enhancements requested by the Mayor, a six-month Public Examination will begin next week (11 October).

In May, Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russel urged the Mayor to withdraw the application for powers to build the tunnel.


Ms Russell commented: “New roads attract new traffic, pollute the air and are incredibly expensive, so it’s extremely disappointing that the Mayor is pushing ahead with the damaging Silvertown Tunnel. He claims he will deliver a ‘greener’ tunnel but the measures he has suggested are tokenistic. This is still a hugely damaging project.

“East London is already one of the most polluted parts of the capital so the Mayor should be providing residents with choices to cross the river by public transport, on foot or by bike rather than leaving them with little choice but to add to congestion and pollution by using a car.

She added: “Sadiq Khan’s river crossings review should have given people the chance to have their say on an alternative package of clean and healthy river crossings. He has missed an opportunity to deliver cleaner air and a healthier transport system that would improve the lives of so many Londoners.”


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