Campaigners call for Silvertown tunnel plans to be scrapped
PUBLISHED: 10:00 02 September 2017
Environmental campaigners have made a last-ditch attempt to stop the Silvertown tunnel from being built - just a month before the final decision is set to be made.
Friends of the Earth have branded the pollution levels in the area as “toxic” and claimed that the tunnel would increase the level of pollution - something which Transport for London (TfL) denies.
The tunnel, which will run from Silvertown to Greenwich, has been proposed to help reduce the amount of congestion in the nearby Blackwall tunnel and provide another river crossing in east London.
Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, called for the project to be scrapped and said: “Londoners’ lungs are already suffering from some of the worst pollution in the country and we must be doing everything we can to make that better, not add to the problem.
“Transport for London have said that it’s OK to make air worse here, because other areas in London are even worse - and so it won’t be this project which holds up the city’s ability to comply with legal limits.
“But when we’re talking about people’s lives being blighted by health problems and cut short because of the toxic air we’re breathing, increasing pollution for anyone is unacceptable.”
A TfL spokesman said: “Cleaning up London’s air is a key priority for the Mayor and TfL and we have looked closely at what additional measures might be needed to ensure that the new Silvertown Tunnel Project does not worsen our air pollution problem.
“We have reviewed our previously provided data in view of the UK Air Quality Plan and our response to the Department for Transport makes clear that this does not change the conclusions of the air quality assessment supporting the application.”
Following a consultation into the tunnel’s viability, the planning inspectorate issued its recommendation to the secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling, in July.
He has until October 11 to issue his decision.
Should the tunnel be approved, construction would begin in 2019 and open in 2023. It would be big enough to allow buses to pass through, improving public transport connections between east and south east London.