Greenwich anti-tunnel campaigners find NO2 breach

No to Silvertown Tunnel campaigners publish results of ‘citizen science’ study showing nitrogen dioxide levels in breach of EU limits

Levels of nitrogen dioxide are as much as two and a half times higher than European Union legal limits in areas of South East London, according to campaigners against the planned Silvertown Tunnel River Thames crossing.

In what they claim is the capital’s ‘largest citizen science air pollution study ever seen’, campaigners monitored nitrogen dioxide levels at 150 sites across South East and East London during January 2014.

No to Silvertown Tunnel campaigner sets up a monitor near the Cutty Sark in Greenwich

No to Silvertown Tunnel campaigner sets up a monitor near the Cutty Sark in Greenwich

Published today (May 2), the results show that levels of the pollutant were as high as 110 microgrammes per cubic metre (mg3) at one monitoring site at the New Cross one way system. This, campaigners say, is more than 2.5 times above the EU limit of 40mg3 for nitrogen dioxide.

One site in Lewisham town centre also found readings of 109mg3 and another on Bramshot Avenue showed 104mg3. In addition, five sites on the A2 road from Deptford to New Cross recorded levels over double the EU limit.

Meanwhile, monitoring sites in Greenwich town centre showed nitrogen dioxide levels almost twice the EU limit.

The studies were carried out between January 6 and February 7 2014. The campaigners claim that levels were likely to have been even higher if it had not been the wettest January since records began.

With backing from citizen science organisation Network for Clean Air, the campaign groups behind the study include No to Silvertown Tunnel. The group claims that the London Mayor’s plans to construct a road tunnel under the Thames will lead to an increase in traffic and air pollution in and around Greenwich.

However, a Mayor of London and Transport for London public consultation last year showed that 76% of those polled supported plans for the Silvertown crossing, which is aimed at reducing congestion in the capital (see story).


No To Silvertown Tunnel campaigner, Darryl Chamberlain, said: “Local politicians are backing dangerous plans for the Silvertown Tunnel rather than taking a stand against the lethal air pollution that blights our communities, and the traffic that causes it. A new tunnel will only bring extra traffic — it won’t bring relief from congestion or pollution.

He called for more investment in new public transport, walking and cycling facilities to combat pollution instead of building more roads.

Mr Chamberlain added: “It’s time we took a stand and worked together to reduce the traffic on our roads, instead of encouraging more vehicles from Kent and Essex to clog up our roads and pollute our neighbourhoods. Greenwich Council, Newham Council and the Mayor of London must rethink their support for the Silvertown Tunnel before it’s too late.”

Andrew Wood of Network for Clean Air said: “The Mayor of London needs to immediately appoint a Commissioner for air quality with a task force to knock heads together; bring forward the start date of the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone, and extend it to at least all the inner London boroughs — including Greenwich and Lewisham — which have harmful and unlawful levels of air pollution.”


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