Mother of daughter who died after asthma attack possibly linked to toxic air says campaign to stop Silvertown Tunnel is ‘winnable’

Ella Kissi-Debrah and her mum, Rosamund. Picture: The Ella Roberta Estate

Ella Kissi-Debrah and her mum, Rosamund. Picture: The Ella Roberta Estate - Credit: Archant

The mother of a girl who suffered a fatal asthma attack which could be linked to toxic air has said a campaign to stop £1billion plans for a new river crossing can be won.

Filmmaker, Mary Waireri, and Rosamund Kissi-Debra. Picture: Jon King

Filmmaker, Mary Waireri, and Rosamund Kissi-Debra. Picture: Jon King - Credit: Archant

Ella Kissi-Debrah was nine when she died in 2013 following the attack. She may become the first person in the country for whom air pollution is listed as the cause of death following a fresh inquest.

Her mum, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, told air quality campaigners who want to stop a tunnel being built between Silvertown and Greenwich: "It's going to be a battle to get [TfL and City Hall] to change their minds.

"But I think it's winnable."

The Silvertown Tunnel would connect Silvertown Way to the north with the Blackwall Tunnel on the south side of the river. It more or less follows the Emirates Air Line route.

TfL expects the crossing will cut congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel, allow new bus routes, improve journey times, create jobs and cut pollution at a dirty air hotspot.

But campaigners from Stop the Silvertown Tunnel say the route will increase traffic and fine particles of dust found in vehicle fumes which can make lung and heart conditions worse for people exposed to high levels.

Most Read

The government has said children, the elderly and those with existing breathing and heart problems are known to be more susceptible to air pollution.

To win, Rosamund - speaking on Car Free Day, Sunday, September 22, when certain roads were closed to vehicles in Newham and across the capital - said air quality campaigns needed more involvement from people of diverse backgrounds.

She said the people most affected - those living next to busy roads - need to be "part and parcel" of the fight for cleaner air.

Mary Waireri, whose documentary Dirty: The Fight for Clean Air centres on the tunnel project, said: "When we need to take drastic action [against pollution] we're building this tunnel which locks us into road use."

The filmmaker explained she was stirred to act over the Silvertown Tunnel during a screening of her film at Greenwich Picturehouse on September 22 where Ella's mum spoke.

"I feel like I've woken up and everyone else needs to as well," Mary said.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter