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MPs urge Sadiq Khan to scrap £1.2bn Silvertown Tunnel plan over ‘perilous’ state of TfL coffers

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 September 2020

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

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

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Two MPs have urged the mayor of London to scrap £1.2billion plans to build a tunnel to Silvertown because of the “perilous” state of TfL’s coronavirus hit coffers.

West Ham MP Lyn Brown and Matthew Pennycook, the Labour Party’s shadow minister for climate change, want Sadiq Khan to focus on green transport not road building.

Ms Brown and the MP for Greenwich and Woolwich state in a letter to the capital’s mayor that TfL’s budget now provides “strong grounds” for reviewing the economic case for the scheme.

“The perilous financial situation in which TfL now finds itself is reason enough to review the case,” the letter says.

The government pledged TfL £1.9bn in support after passenger numbers dropped more than 90 per cent at the height of the pandemic.

Lyn Brown is the Labour Party MP for West Ham. Picture: Labour PartyLyn Brown is the Labour Party MP for West Ham. Picture: Labour Party

The MPs warn the financial risks of the project overrunning could be borne by TfL in spite of the fact the tunnel would be paid for through tolls and built by a private company.

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A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Sadiq has been clear that he doesn’t want to replace one health crisis with another, and he is determined our city’s recovery from coronavirus will be clean, green and sustainable.

“A new tunnel at Silvertown is important because the existing infrastructure is antiquated and worn out. It will be funded by a toll, not TfL cash.”

Matthew Pennycook is the Labour Party MP for Greenwich and Woolwich. Picture: KOSMatthew Pennycook is the Labour Party MP for Greenwich and Woolwich. Picture: KOS

The tunnel also provides a public transport-focused river crossing with improved bus links.

He added the combination of tolls on the Blackwall tunnel and at Silvertown, as well as the extension of the ultra low emission zone from 2021 to include Silvertown - will play a “crucial” part in tackling congestion and air quality.

Campaigners, some residents, Newham Council and certain experts have already called on Mayor Khan to ditch the scheme.

Victoria Rance from the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel Coalition said: “Our MPs understand that going ahead with a tunnel built for even bigger fossil fuel vehicles makes no sense in a respiratory and climate emergency.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan faces renewed calls to scrap the Silvertown Tunnel. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PAMayor of London Sadiq Khan faces renewed calls to scrap the Silvertown Tunnel. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA

“We need infrastructure for cycling, walking and clean delivery methods, not the mouth of a toxic tunnel spewing out HGVs into the most polluted borough in the UK, endangering our children’s lives.”

City Hall’s watchdog oversight committee has ruled out investigating events leading up to the scheme getting a green light after campaigners raised questions about the consultation which led to the decision.


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