Silvertown tunnel decision delayed

November 8 2017   | Region: London

Silvertown tunnel decision delayed
Air quality concerns have led the Government to defer a decision over whether to build the Silvertown tunnel in east London, prompting a backlash of criticism.
Transport Minister Paul Maynard said yesterday that the decision has been put back by six months to 10 May to enable further consideration of the effect of the scheme on air quality, including its compliance with plans to tackle nitrogen dioxide concentrations.
Motoring and freight groups say that a new crossing beneath the Thames is desperately needed to reduce congestion and associated pollution from slow moving traffic at the nearby Blackwall tunnel (pictured).
A spokesman for the AA said: “With traffic at record levels we need to deal with pinch points like this and the Government needs to hurry up and get on with the scheme.” He added that relieving congestion by building a new tunnel will hopefully put an end to vehicles “just sitting there with their engines on and causing pollution”.
The Freight Transport Association’s head of policy for London Natalie Chapman described the delay as frustrating, particularly given current levels of congestion around Blackwall. “The impact of not going ahead with this scheme would be extremely serious,” she said. “Stop / start traffic has a huge impact on air quality and east London suffers from a lack of river crossings.”
She added that the Silvertown tunnel would provide the local road network with added resilience and welcomed an earlier suggestion for lorries and buses to share a dedicated lane through the new tunnel.
Business group London First’s executive director David Leam said that companies in the capital will be dismayed at this further delay to the Silvertown tunnel. “The existing crossing at Blackwall is a notorious congestion blackspot that can cause traffic paralysis across South East London. A new crossing at Silvertown is vital to keep London moving.”
But the London Assembly’s Green Party member Caroline Russell said: “The Silvertown tunnel will do huge harm to the health and wellbeing of Londoners who live around it. The Government cannot keep kicking this decision down the road. If Silvertown doesn’t meet planning rules, it should be turned down full stop.”
She also urged the London Mayor to not wait for a decision from Government, but instead get Transport for London to withdraw the application right away.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Progressing with the Silvertown tunnel will provide significant benefits for London, supporting jobs and growth in east London and tackling a major area of congestion.”
But he added that Transport for London is also determined to ensure the tunnel does not have a detrimental impact on the environment. “That’s why the plans have such a focus on cleaner public transport, with only buses with the highest emission standards using the tunnel and significant investment in pedestrian and cycling improvements in the area,” he added.
(Photo: TfL)

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