Pupils in City Hall protest against Silvertown tunnel

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 June 2019

Campaigners against the Silvertown tunnel at City Hall. Picture: Tom Bull

Campaigners against the Silvertown tunnel at City Hall. Picture: Tom Bull

Tom Bull

Pupils have pleaded for the Silvertown tunnel to be scrapped as part of a City Hall protest.

Youngsters from Thomas Tallis School in Kidbrooke, south east London, joined environmental campaigners from Extinction Rebellion and Stop the Silvertown Tunnel coalition to pressure Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to backtrack on the controversial new road.

Activists say the tunnel, which connects Silvertown and Greenwich, will exacerbate pollution problems at one of London's worst hotspots.

One pupil, Cally Moore, said: "A lot of young people are now realising how important this is, it is our future. If they want to build things like this, it won't necessarily affect the older generations as it will us."

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Fellow pupil Freddie Fullerton added: "It's really close to our school and to where we live. It comes out in the same place as the Blackwall tunnel, that is where we live."

Work on the 1.4km road link is set to begin later this year, with the Riverlinx consortium named as the preferred bidder last month. It is expected to be open in 2025.

Victoria Rance, a teacher and mum-of-three who is one of the STST organisers, said: "At this point when the contracts are about to be signed, we want Sadiq Khan to hear that we do not want it."

The protest took place ahead of Mayor's Question Time on Thursday, where Mr Khan told City Hall that a new tunnel was necessary as "doing nothing is not an option."

He said: "The problem we have is how we deal with the fact that the Blackwall tunnel is closed 700 times a year on average, leading to the catastrophe of tailbacks, there's poor air quality, congestion and people don't cross the river using the bus because it is unreliable."

Caroline Pidgeon, Lib Dem assembly member, said outside City Hall: "It's really important we see people coming to City Hall to make sure the mayor hears them loud and clear.
"He can talk the talk about cleaning up air, but the contradiction to building a motorway under the Thames and the damaging impact on people is unacceptable.
Campaigners continue to press the mayor to put off signing contracts for the tunnel, which he is poised to do ahead of the summer, with construction poised to start before the end of the year.

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