Campaigners claim ULEZ expansion benefit 'undone' by Silvertown Tunnel project

A CGI of the proposed Silvertown Tunnel. Picture: TfL

A CGI of the proposed Silvertown Tunnel. Picture: TfL - Credit: TfL

Campaigners have called on the Mayor of London to scrap the Silvertown Tunnel project after expanding the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

Stop the Silvertown Tunnel Coalition says it "heartily supports" the ULEZ, an initiative designed to improve London's air quality which now covers all areas within the North and South Circular roads including much of Newham.

But campaigners claim the “mega-highway” with dedicated HGV lanes, set to connect Silvertown to the Greenwich Peninsula near the Blackwall Tunnel, will undo this benefit and increase congestion in Newham - London’s most polluted borough.

Planned to open in 2025, TfL say the tunnel will provide a public transport-focused river crossing with up to 37 zero emission buses an hour traveling through it.

Sadiq Khan's office says there is an "urgent need" for a second river crossing in the area and promises that extending the ULEZ will "play a crucial role in tackling congestion and improving air quality".

However, campaigner Victoria Rance said the ULEZ change doesn’t do enough to lower carbon emissions.

“On the one hand, the mayor of London is discouraging car travel with the expansion of the ULEZ and on the other hand encouraging juggernauts to rattle through the streets of polluted east and south-east London to get to a proposed river tunnel,” she said.

“TfL tells us the Silvertown road tunnel will send more than 20,000 new cars and vans and HGVs every day into Newham past homes and schools, and add to congestion and pollution on the A102 through Greenwich and Lewisham.”

Mr Khan's office says the central London ULEZ helped “cut roadside concentrations of nitrogen dioxide” in that zone by nearly half and its extension will extend these benefits to millions of Londoners.

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A spokesperson for the mayor said: “(The Blackwall Tunnel) is closed an average of 600 times a year with a five-minute closure leading to a three-mile tailback of cars, vans and buses with idling engines emitting toxic pollutants into London’s air and causing congestion further afield.

“Extensive modelling shows that the introduction of tolls on both tunnels at Silvertown and Blackwall will mean no overall increase in traffic and an overall improvement in air quality.”

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