Doctors urge Tower Hamlets mayor to end support for Silvertown Tunnel

Protestors blocked some access to the Blackwall Tunnel northbound in opposition to the Silvertown Tu

Doctors and health care workers are among those opposing the Silvertown Tunnel. Pictured here are protesters from Extinction Rebellion stopping traffic on the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel in 2019. - Credit: Victoria Rance

A group of doctors and health workers has urged the mayor of Tower Hamlets to end his support for the Silvertown Tunnel.

A total of 25 medical professionals from across the East End have warned the scheme will funnel traffic into poorer areas and represents "an assault" on health and the climate.

Artist's impression of one of the Silvertown tunnel portals. Picture: TfL

An artist's impression of one of the Silvertown tunnel portals. - Credit: TfL

The road tunnel under the River Thames is to link Silvertown to the Greenwich Peninsula. Transport for London predicts without it, congestion and air quality around the Blackwall Tunnel will get worse.

The letter states: "We all view the proposal to build this tunnel as an assault on the health of East Londoners and on the climate."

It adds: "The Silvertown Tunnel, as proposed, will funnel traffic, including heavy freight vehicles, into areas of deprivation which already suffer disproportionately from so many adverse social determinants of health".

Mayor John Biggs

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs. - Credit: LBTH

However the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, has brushed the appeal aside.

He said: ‘’East London has suffered from a lack of river crossings and while I do not normally support new roads I am, on balance, supportive of the plans for the Silvertown Tunnel, with appropriate mitigation, because it offers the prospect of a solution to the terrible air quality and congestion problems at the Blackwall Tunnel.

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“On top of this, the tolling regime, at both Silvertown and Blackwall, will allow suppression of demand for ‘unnecessary’ journeys and the tunnel would allow development of a bus network spanning the Thames which is currently impossible and will be a great prize.

"Both TfL and Tower Hamlets Council have taken great steps in the last few years to clean up our polluted air and remain committed to continue this.’’

Rokhsana Fiaz

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz. - Credit: Rokhsana Fiaz

The stance contrasts with those of Labour counterparts, including the mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, who has already voiced concerns about the scheme's impact on air quality in her borough, which has seen the country's worst toxic air.

The Labour leader of Greenwich Council, Danny Thorpe has opposed the tunnel too.

Climate activist, Maggie Falshawe, who lives near Canning Town, said: "I feel like [Mayor Biggs] is saying, 'Stuff the people of Newham'.

"Councils in Newham and Greenwich have opposed it. Tower Hamlets is the weak link."