What is the Silvertown Tunnel?
Silvertown Tunnel is a planned road tunnel under the River Thames in East London that will connect the Greenwich Peninsula and west Silvertown. It is being promoted by Transport for London and scheduled to be delivered through a design, build, finance and maintain contract by the Riverlinx consortium. The tunnel is intended to reduce congestion through the Blackwall Tunnel and it is planned that both tunnels will be tolled from when it is due to open in 2025. The current proposal is for a twin-bore tunnel to connect the A1020 Silvertown Way/Lower Lea Crossing on the north side with the A102 road Blackwall Tunnel Approach on the south side, on an alignment similar to the Emirates Air Line cable car. Lane 1 will be dedicated to buses and goods vehicles over 7.5t, while lane 2 will be available for all traffic.
The primary reason for the Slivertown Tunnel is to divert traffic away from the Blackwall Tunnel, and spew it out into Silvertown, onto the streets of Newham. The planned Silvertown Tunnel will be able to take Heavy Goods Juggernauts – the Blackwall tunnel is too small for the larger lorries. So the streets of Newham will be even more polluted and dangerous than they are at present.
What is the problem?
If the Silvertown Tunnel is built, there will be a massive increase in traffic spewing out into Silvertown and Canning Town ploughing through the streets of Newham. And that traffic will include heavy, and I mean heavy, goods vehicles that cannot fit through the Blackwall Tunnel.
The Mayor of London says it will be good for London… But it sure is bad for Newham! Why does Lynn Brown MP whose constituency it would spew out into, oppose it and Stephen Timms, MP for the eastern side of Newham, support it? Why does the Mayor of Newham oppose it, and the Mayor of London support it? You get the picture – good for London motorists, really, really bad for Newham residents!!!!
This outdated project – to construct a large bore tunnel under the Thames from Greenwich to Silvertown – has no place in a time of climate emergency and growing evidence of the dangers of traffic air pollution. The Tunnel is opposed by the adjacent boroughs of Lewisham, Southwark, Newham, Hackney and some Greenwich councillors. It is also opposed by top environmental health, transport and climate policy experts, air quality campaigners, active travel NGOs, Extinction Rebellion climate activists, politicians from all parties across east and south east London, local residents and headteachers, and cycle logistics companies.
Newham will be very badly affected if the Silvertown Tunnel is built because very heavy good articulated lorries will start to come through the roads of Newham. Because the proposed Silvertown Tunnel would be much higher and wider than the Blackwall tunnel, HGVs and other traffic will use existing approach roads, causing yet more congestion and air pollution near local schools and homes already suffering dirty air. HGV logistics centres are planned near the tunnel mouths on both sides of the river.
• The tunnel does not accord with the Paris Accord 1.5⁰
• The tunnel would increase, not decrease, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution
• The tunnel, if built, will cause induced traffic
• The tunnel would increase, not reduce, social inequalities
• The tunnel is probably not viable any longer because of increasing cost and financial instability.
Then consider – why do places like Newham suffer most from ill-health?
Maybe the answer has something to do with making decisions that are seen as “good” for London, regardless of the residents of Newham.
What is the solution?
The London Mayor should review the tunnel project in relation to cost, transport strategy and environmental issues, given that so much has changed in recent months. The London Mayor should heed the call of the Newham Mayor to cancel the project.
XR Newham and XR Greenwich, many other neighbouring XR groups, and the SSTC engaged in a day of guerrilla gardening on two sites of waste ground, north and south of the river: we planted 26 silver birch trees on each site to highlight the 26 lives lost each day in London due to air pollution. The site of the silver birches is next to the Crystal Building into which the Mayor of London will move next year.
Stop Silvertown Tunnel Coalition
SSTC is a coalition of people and groups dedicated to stopping the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel, on both the north and south of the river: you are welcome to join.
What can you do to help?
• Join XR Newham
• Join Stop Silvertown Tunnel Coalition (SSTC)
• Email the Mayor of London
• Email your local MP