Tell London’s mayoral candidates: No to Silvertown Tunnel

City Hall by Maciek Lulko

Whoever takes charge at City Hall next year can cancel the Silvertown Tunnel. (City Hall by Maciek Lulko used under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0).

It might be August, but we’ve reached a vitally important time in our campaign. Political parties are choosing who they want as their candidates to be the person who can cancel the Silvertown Tunnel – the next London mayor.

If you could find the time to email at least one of the potential candidates, you could make a huge difference to our campaign.

The more people who tell these candidates they are opposed to the Silvertown Tunnel, the better. So if you can help us, we’d be really grateful.

Labour mayoral candidate Christian Wolmar says: No to Silvertown Tunnel

Transport expert Christian Wolmar, who is standing to be the Labour party’s candidate in next year’s mayoral election, has branded the Silvertown Tunnel “a deadly disaster” for east and south east London.

“There is no way we should be building infrastructure that, as TfL admits, will make air quality worse. Poor air is already killing more than 4,000 Londoners every year and that scandal must be stopped,” he says.

“We need better public transport and facilities to encourage more people to walk or cycle. History has shown us that building more roads attracts more traffic. The Silvertown scheme is no exception.”

We’re grateful to Christian, who has consistently supported our campaign and spoke at our annual general meeting in January.

If you’re a Labour supporter and would like to back him to be the party’s candidate, visit www.wolmarforlondon.co.uk or the Labour website to find out how to sign up.

Please tell the other Labour candidates: No to Silvertown Tunnel

But what about the other Labour candidates? We’ve heard very little about the Silvertown Tunnel from Tessa Jowell, Sadiq Khan, Diane Abbott, David Lammy and Gareth Thomas. If you’re thinking of picking them in Labour’s selection, please drop them a line to find out their position on the tunnel.

Remember, Hackney Council’s decision to oppose the tunnel demonstrates that this isn’t a local issue that just affects a few thousand people – Boris’s toxic tunnel would have consequences right across London. If you get a response, please let us know.

Please tell Tory, Green and Lib Dem candidates: No to Silvertown Tunnel

The Conservatives have just announced their candidates, and if you’re a party supporter, we’d be grateful if you could remind their hopefuls of the damage the Silvertown Tunnel would do. They are: Zac Goldsmith, Syed Kamall, Andrew Boff and Stephen Greenhalgh. Again, we’d love to know any response you get. Just as with the Labour selection, non-members can vote for the Conservatives’ candidate too.

We’re really grateful for the consistent support the Green Party has given us, particularly at City Hall. The Greens are opposed to the Silvertown Tunnel, but if you’re a supporter, we’re sure their candidates wouldn’t object to a reminder of what a serious issue this is. They are Jonathan Bartley, Siân Berry, Tom Chance, Benali Hamdache, Rashid Nix and Caroline Russell.

Finally, we’re also thankful for the backing Caroline Pidgeon has given our campaign, and we’re delighted she’s standing to be the Liberal Democrats’ candidate. We’re waiting to see what the final shortlist looks like, but for now you can get in touch with the hopefuls via Lib Dem Voice.

Is there any other way I can help stop the Silvertown Tunnel?

If you’re in the emailing mood, you could ask your local councillors, MP or London Assembly members – what are you are doing to oppose the Silvertown Tunnel? Use www.writetothem.com to find out who they are and to get in touch.

If you’d like to help us in other ways, then we always need funds to produce leaflets and other campaign materials – we’d be very grateful for any donations. We also need volunteers to help deliver leaflets over the coming months. If you can help, please drop us a line at info@silvertowntunnel.co.uk.

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Hackney Council declares its opposition to the Silvertown Tunnel

Hackney Town Hall

Hackney Council has demanded the toxic Silvertown Tunnel road scheme is axed – adding pressure on London’s mayoral hopefuls to pledge to abandon the controversial road scheme.

A motion put before the council on Wednesday night called for the £1bn tunnel, between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, to be scrapped because it would increase traffic and air pollution across east London.

“You cannot build your way out of congestion,” the motion read, adding: “The additional road capacity would lead to a significant increase in motor traffic in Hackney and significantly worsen air quality in this borough.”

Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors joined forces to pass the motion at Hackney Town Hall.

The tunnel, proposed by current mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London, would increase capacity for traffic from Kent into east London – particularly HGVs, which are banned from the northbound Blackwall Tunnel.

It would also worsen bottlenecks on both sides of the river, particularly on roads which struggle to cope with existing traffic levels.

“Citizen science” air quality studies conducted by the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign have found nitrogen dioxide levels well above EU levels in areas close to the proposed tunnel and its approach roads.

And Hackney’s call for the tunnel to be scrapped shows politicians are beginning to recognise the scheme will also do damage to a much wider area.

Labour mayoral hopeful Christian Wolmar has condemned the scheme as “a deadly disaster” while Lewisham and Southwark Councils have also expressed serious concerns.

Introducing the motion, Cllr Richard Lufkin (Labour, Shacklewell) said: “Building this tunnel will have a significant effect on traffic flow and air quality in this borough. Increased motor traffic would come flooding into Hackney, most probably at the East Cross/ Hackney Wick junction, and spread right across the borough.”

Seconding the motion, Cllr Peter Snell (Labour, Dalston) said: “The Silvertown Tunnel introduces a huge increase in lorry capacity in particular across the Thames, bringing them much, much closer to central London. It will increase the pressure on Hackney’s streets.”

Hackney’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, Cllr Feryal Demirci (Labour, Hoxton East & Shoreditch), said: “In addition to the congestion, air quality will be worsened. Thirty per cent of asthma in children in London is caused by poor air quality. In Hackney alone, we have 18 schools within metres of roads which carry more than 10,000 vehicles a day. ”

Liberal Democrat Cllr Abraham Jacobson (Cazenove) called for more sustainable crossings of the Thames: “We can have a tunnel – but for cycles and pedestrians. All you’ll have is more capacity bringing more cars. We don’t need it. Nobody needs it.”

No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign chair Nikki Coates said.

“We’re delighted that Hackney councillors have made clear their opposition to the Silvertown Tunnel. They have recognised that this toxic tunnel will only increase traffic and air pollution in east and south east London, making a bad situation even worse.

“We hope other councils and London’s mayoral candidates will sit up and see that this poorly thought-through scheme will do damage right across our city.

“The next mayor must cancel the Silvertown Tunnel.”

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Air pollution is blighting Newham and Tower Hamlets, our study finds – and the Silvertown Tunnel’s HGVs would make it worse

Campaigner Chris Taylor gets to grips with a pollution tube in our citizen science study

Campaigner Chris Taylor gets to grips with a pollution tube in our citizen science study

East Londoners who already have to endure toxic levels of air pollution will face more HGVs thundering through their neighbourhoods if the next London mayor does not cancel the controversial Silvertown Tunnel, campaigners are warning.

The road tunnel, which is being promoted by current mayor Boris Johnson, will run from Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks, and is being designed to attract HGVs that cannot use the existing Blackwall Tunnel.

The No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign, which represents residents on both sides of the Thames opposed to the new road, measured nitrogen dioxide levels at 25 locations in Poplar, Canning Town and Silvertown, across he boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham. The “citizen science” study was carried out in February using tubes attached to lamp posts.

Most readings were above the EU legal limit of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre, with some near double the level.

Dots indicate where we placed tubes. The star indicates the northern exit from the Siilvertown Tunnel.

Dots indicate where we placed tubes. The star indicates the northern exit from the Siilvertown Tunnel.

Nitrogen dioxide pollution at the tunnel’s proposed northern exit at Tidal Basin Roundabout is already at 65µg/m³, while the junction of East India Dock Road and Leamouth Road – which will see extra HGVs heading to the A12 – saw readings of 75µg/m³.

We also recorded 71µg/m³ where Newham Way meets Butchers Road in Canning Town, close to Kier Hardie Primary School.

Nitrogen dioxide levels at North Woolwich Road, by the Britannia Village housing development, reached 63µg/m³, while levels outside Hadlow Primary School in Canning Town break EU limits at 44µg/m³.

On Poplar’s Aberfeldy Estate, we found levels of 63µg/m³ on Abbott Road.

Mapping For Change, a charity which helps local communities campaign on issues relating to their neighbourhoods, funded the study.

Backers of the Silvertown Tunnel include Newham’s elected mayor Sir Robin Wales, who admitted to MPs earlier this year that his borough would see more congestion as a result of the scheme.

“The Silvertown Tunnel is being sold as a silver bullet for pollution and congestion, but in fact it’ll make matters worse by making it easier for heavy lorries to come into east London from Kent and the Channel ports,” No to Silvertown Tunnel chair Nikki Coates said.

“We’re being told it’s needed to relieve Blackwall Tunnel congestion, but existing routes north of the river such as the Lower Lea Crossing and East India Dock Road already struggle to cope with traffic levels.

“We shouldn’t be encouraging HGVs to use east and south-east London as a bypass – the consequences will reach far and wide. Instead we need better measures to deal with oversized lorries before they reach Blackwall Tunnel, and more investment in better walking, cycling and rail connections across the Thames.”

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Want to regenerate Greenwich Peninsula properly? Build a walking and cycling link to Canary Wharf

Delta Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula: Planners should be looking at making it possible to walk and cycle to the Isle of Dogs

Delta Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula: Planners should be looking at making it possible to walk and cycle to the Isle of Dogs

Planners are currently mulling over new plans to redevelop the Greenwich Peninsula. We think they should be looking at making it possible for its thousands of new residents to walk or cycle to Canary Wharf.

Developer Knight Dragon recently asked Greenwich Council if it could change the 10-year-old masterplan for one of London’s biggest regeneration schemes.

The company’s new plan includes at least 12,700 new homes, education and healthcare facilities, a film studio and visitor attraction and a 500-room hotel.

But plans for a £1 billion road crossing between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks would put a brake on its plans to regenerate the area, by adding to congestion and pollution in the area.

No to Silvertown Tunnel thinks planners could boost the Greenwich Peninsula’s regeneration at a fraction of the cost by building a pedestrian and cycle connection to Canary Wharf.

It would ease pressure on the Jubilee Line and better connect the peninsula to the economic hub across the river.

Transport for London has already costed a bridge between North Greenwich and Canary Wharf at £90m – adding it could be “iconic” and would be “likely to encourage investment”.

With increasing development on both sides of the Thames, the main stumbling block of such a connection – that it would deposit walkers or cyclists in unattractive areas – is fast disappearing.

A pedestrian or cycle link to Canary Wharf would make Greenwich Peninsula more attractive for employers and residents alike.

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans has long been campaigning for a bridge from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf – we think a link to Greenwich Peninsula should be considered too.

“The last thing the Greenwich Peninsula needs is more jams and more pollution from the Silvertown Tunnel,” Darryl Chamberlain from No to Silvertown Tunnel says.

“With more development planned along the Jubilee Line and Crossrail tipped to be full soon as it opens, it’s unwise to be relying so heavily on a packed Tube and a badly-thought-through road tunnel to regenerate the peninsula.

“It’s a big ask, but politicians, planners and developers should be looking at linking Canary Wharf and the Greenwich Peninsula for walkers and cyclists.

“It’d provide a link for everyone to use, from chief executives to cleaners, relieving the Tube and connecting communities.”

The formal consultation on the Greenwich Peninsula masterplan ended on 27 April, but Greenwich planners will still accept comments from members of the public. Head to www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/planning and search for application 15/0716/O.

Find out more:
Cable Car Need and Business Case, Transport for London, 2011. First obtained using Freedom of Information laws by Alistair Johnson.
Our submission to the Greenwich Peninsula Masterplan planning application.

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TfL’s latest email campaign shows it’s playing dirty over the Silvertown Tunnel

The Blackwall Tunnel may be congested, but the Silvertown Tunnel will not help traffic on its approaches

The Blackwall Tunnel may be congested, but the Silvertown Tunnel will not help traffic on its approaches

We’ve discovered that Transport for London is playing dirty in its battle to build the toxic Silvertown Tunnel. It’s launched an email campaign asking motorists to come up with reasons why it should go ahead with the £1 billion project.

We’re hugely grateful to the campaign supporters who sent us the emails they received from TfL – and their replies explaining why the Silvertown Tunnel is a bad idea.

Despite election rules prohibiting publicity on controversial matters, TfL used its database to email members of the public last Friday (24 April) to ask them about their experiences of congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel.

TfL email

“We would like to hear from people who use the Blackwall Tunnel or who are affected in some way by the congestion at the tunnel. Are you often delayed by congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel? How does a lack of river crossings in east London affect your everyday travel?,” the mail reads.

“Your feedback will help us to make clear the pressing need to address the problems at the Blackwall Tunnel, and could help us to secure the powers that would be necessary to build the Silvertown Tunnel,” it ends.

TfL’s appeal for help comes after its most recent consultation revealed widespread fears that the tunnel will increase congestion on local roads, leading to even worse air pollution. TfL was also criticised – even by tunnel supporters such as Greenwich Council – for a lack of data to back up its assertions about the scheme.

The price of the project appears to be spiralling, too. City traders were told last week the project would cost £1 billion – an increase on the £750m quoted in last year’s consultation, and the £600m cited in 2012. The news came in a Thomson Reuters wire story about KPMG teaming up with TfL to help finance the project.

We think Transport for London should stop using dirty tricks to promote its its toxic tunnel – especially at election time when public bodies should be acting neutrally.

It’s already packed a consultation full of leading questions and assertions that fall apart under scrutiny. Now it’s failed to come up with adequate data to back up its claims, it’s asking drivers to come up with anecdotes to support its plans.

Nobody’s pretending Blackwall Tunnel queues aren’t a problem – but the Silvertown Tunnel is the wrong solution in the wrong place. It will simply pile more pressure onto local roads and make the situation worse.

Instead of casting around for Blackwall Tunnel horror stories, TfL should be looking to cut traffic levels on London’s roads while boosting public transport, walking and cycling in the area instead.

If you’ve had an email, please feel free to respond – and tell TfL why the Silvertown Tunnel is such a bad idea.

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Supreme Court air quality ruling is a wake-up call on the Silvertown Tunnel

The Supreme Court, 29 April 2015

This morning, the Supreme Court ruled that the UK government must take immediate steps to cut air pollution.

This ruling has implications for politicians at all levels. It forces the government to urgently clean up pollution from diesel vehicles, the main source of the illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide found in our cities.

More than 4,000 Londoners are thought to die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution.

The case was brought by environmental lawyers Client Earth, who pursued the government for five years through UK and European courts.

Announcing the decision, Lord Carnwath said: “The new government, whatever its political complexion, should be left in no doubt as to the need for immediate action to address this issue.”

No to Silvertown Tunnel is campaigning against the construction of a new road tunnel under the Thames between the Greenwich Peninsula and Royal Docks.

The Silvertown Tunnel – proposed by Transport for London and supported by neighbouring Greenwich and Newham councils – would increase traffic on already-congested roads, making already-intolerable congestion worse.

The campaign’s Darryl Chamberlain was at the Supreme Court this morning to hear the judgment read out.

He says:

“This judgment is a wake-up call for politicians at all levels, from possible Prime Ministers to our local councillors, whatever their party.

“For too long now, we’ve had politicians at all levels – from central government to local boroughs – who have ignored air pollution and backed roadbuilding schemes that will make it worse.

“In particular, the candidates to be London’s next mayor must cancel Boris Johnson’s Silvertown Tunnel, which will add to congestion and pollution in both south-east and east London.

“Greenwich and Newham councils must face up to their public health responsibilities and challenge TfL’s toxic tunnel, instead of meekly going along with a scheme that will do nothing about congestion yet will damage the lives of thousands of local people.”

No to Silvertown Tunnel has carried out two air pollution studies in east and south east London, which show illegal levels of pollution in areas where people live, work, and attend school.

It will shortly announce the results of a third study, which covered parts of Newham and Tower Hamlets boroughs in east London.

See also:
Client Earth’s press release
The Supreme Court judgment and summary

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It’s election time – ask your candidates about the Silvertown Tunnel

Polling Station by secretlondon123

Polling Station by secretlondon123, used under this Creative Commons licence

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may have noticed there’s a general election on.

We’d like to make clear No to Silvertown Tunnel is not affiliated to any political party. We’re grateful to have had support from across the political spectrum.

Members of various parties have taken time to help our air pollution monitoring, the results of which have been made available for all to use. We’ve submitted evidence to cross-party committees of MPs. And we’ve met politicians – including some standing in this election – to explain why the Silvertown Tunnel is a bad idea.

If you hear any candidate claiming they or their party is linked to us, we’d like to make clear that is simply not true. (We’d also like to to hear about it.)

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the tunnel an issue in this election. Wherever you live – whether it’s a safe seat or a marginal constituency – the election is a chance to have your say on the tunnel.

Everyone who raises the Silvertown Tunnel on the doorstep, on social media, by email or at a hustings is doing their bit to raise the profile of our campaign. The more it is raised, the more candidates will have to think about the issue – and the more likely they are to raise concerns.

What can you do?

1. Get in touch with your candidates. From Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney to Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and beyond, the Silvertown Tunnel is an issue candidates should be aware of. You can find candidates’ details at Your Next MP.

2. Raise the issue on the doorstep. If you get a knock on the door in the next couple of weeks, don’t hide – raise the tunnel as an issue. Do they support the tunnel? Have they seen our campaign? Do they accept that building new roads creates more traffic? Will they raise this within their parties?

3. Ask a question at hustings. If you can spare the time, hear from your candidates at hustings events across east and south-east London. You can find details of some at Meet Your Next MP, but here are a few we’re aware of. Greenwich & Woolwich: Charlton Society hustings, Saturday 25 April, 2.30pm – Assembly Rooms, The Village SE7 8UD. Greenwich NUT hustings, Tuesday 28 April, 6.30pm – Forum at Greenwich, Trafalgar Road SE10 9EQ. Lewisham Deptford: Sunday 26 April, 7.30pm – St Catherine’s Church, Pepys Road SE14 5SG. Hackney North & Stoke Newington/ Hackney South & Shoreditch: Hackney Citizen hustings, Sunday 26 April, 2pm – Arcola Theatre, Ashwin Street E8 3DL. Bethnal Green & Bow/ Poplar & Limehouse: Tower Hamlets CND/ Friends of the Earth hustings, Wednesday 29 April, 7pm – Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, E2 6HG. Eltham: Eltham Park Baptist Church hustings, Wednesday 29 April, 7.30pm – 32a Westmount Road SE9 1AJ. Lewisham East: Mummy’s Gin Fund hustings, Thursday 30 April, 8pm – Church of The Good Shepherd, Handen Road, SE12 8NR (aimed at local women and male guests – please register here). Erith and Thamesmead: Thamesmead Link hustings, Sunday 3 May, 6pm – Belvedere Road SE2 9BS.

I Like Clean Air poster

Finally, our friends at I Like Clean Air are holding a kids’ activism day in Shoreditch this Saturday. ITV’s Tonight programme will be filming – so if you’re a family concerned about air pollution, be at Shoreditch High Street station for 2.30pm.

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Burying bad news: TfL’s latest Silvertown Tunnel report reveals widespread worries about congestion and pollution

Sun in the Sands roundabout

Transport for London is crossings its fingers and hoping the A102 can carry the extra load from the Silvertown Tunnel

Transport for London quietly slipped out its report into the last Silvertown Tunnel consultation on Thursday afternoon – burying some bad news for its plans to build a new road between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks.

After years of TfL and some local councils using their marketing budgets to push the tunnel – and mixing it up with other crossings – the headline result is what City Hall would have wanted. After all, who doesn’t want to get across the Thames more easily?

Yet this was the first time TfL has actually consulted about this crossing alone, instead of trying to sneak it through along with other new road schemes.

And once you get beyond the simple “yes/no” tick box and actually invite people to think about the effects of a crossing at this location, the fears about this toxic tunnel making congestion and pollution even worse run through this report like a motto in a stick of rock.

How will the existing A102 be able to cope with 20% more traffic – particularly heading southbound? What about its effects on air pollution? Why is TfL prioritising new roads rather than new public transport connections?

It’s not just the public who are worried. The companies and organisations who depend on local traffic to run smoothly are also coming out against the scheme.

The ExCel exhibition centre has voiced its fears about the Silvertown Tunnel – it knows the Lower Lea Crossing can barely cope with traffic as it is, because its customers already get stuck in queues. (See the video above filmed during the Baby Show in February.) Landowner Quintain is also unhappy about TfL’s plans.

South of the river, Southern Gas Networks – whose staff have been on the Greenwich Peninsula longer than anyone else – is against the scheme, arguing it’ll be poor value for money. And Millennium Primary School has rightly pointed out that the tunnel will make traffic worse, not better; and that MPs have recommended new roads should not be built near schools.

The report also reveals deep unhappiness at the level of information TfL provided with the consultation. Is TfL trying to railroad through this dangerous scheme without doing its homework?

And TfL’s strategy of telling people they can have new roads without any adverse consequences finally comes unstuck on the question of tolling – as the report reveals most respondents were opposed to charging for Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels.

TfL tweets

Transport for London’s publicity was designed to secure a simple majority in favour of the tunnel – but when people were invited to think about the consequences, a very different story emerged

These consultation results show how residents and businesses are starting to see through TfL’s slogans and shiny videos. They know building new roads just leads to more traffic – and this is something we can’t afford with local streets already congested.

The Silvertown Tunnel is no solution to the Blackwall Tunnel’s problems – it’ll make other bottlenecks worse and leave London still depending on the 1897 tunnel for the main northbound route.

Instead of digging itself further into a hole, Transport for London should abandon this scheme now.

It needs to make crossing the river easier by cutting traffic on London’s roads, boosting public transport and making walking and cycling easier, instead of making matters worse by flying headlong into poorly-thought out new roads such as the Silvertown Tunnel.

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Taxpayers deserve better than this lazy report – our response to the Transport Select Committee

Greenwich Park, 17 March 2015

The report was released on the day London issued its first official air pollution warnings.

A new report from MPs has backed the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel – but we think they’ve served taxpayers poorly by coming up with a lazy report full of outdated assumptions.

No to Silvertown Tunnel contributed to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into strategic river crossings, and our comments are referred to in the report.

While MPs have acknowledged serious local concerns about the Silvertown Tunnel, we’re disappointed that they seem to have come from a position that all road-building must be good for local communities.

Instead of asking “how do we build these roads”, it should have been asking “why are we building these roads?”

New roads = more traffic, same old jams

There’s an overwhelming body of evidence showing that new road-building leads to increased traffic – a body of evidence that has been ignored by the committee. To imagine you can build a road without generating new road traffic is fantasy – but it’s one that London’s policymakers have happily signed up to.

The Silvertown Tunnel will increase traffic levels in east and south-east London. TfL has admitted to a 20% increase, London’s deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring told the committee that traffic on local roads will double.

Despite this, the committee – whose report was released on the day when London’s mayor issued City Hall’s first air quality warnings – chose to ignore evidence that new roads generate more traffic, even falling for the old line about new roads reducing the number of idling vehicles that produce pollution.

Even one of the Silvertown Tunnel’s local supporters – Newham elected mayor Sir Robin Wales – admits the Silvertown Tunnel will do little to aid economic regeneration. Indeed, the intensive construction projects currently under way in the Royal Docks and on the Greenwich Peninsula suggest that regeneration is proceeding fine without it. Indeed the developments there have followed investment in public transport, such as the Jubilee Line, Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail.

The current plans for London’s river crossings are generated by frustration at not being able to cross the Thames. Yet the Blackwall Tunnel bottleneck is surrounded by other bottlenecks, both north and south of the Thames. Adding the Silvertown Tunnel will simply add pressure, particularly for southbound journeys on the A102, and will still leave the main north-south route relying on a 118-year-old crossing built for horses and carts.

The transport committee says the Silvertown Tunnel “must not be built in isolation”. Yet that is exactly what will happen, with TfL attempting to rush through the scheme at a far greater pace than other projects.

Damage to communities in east and south east London by expecting them to bear the weight of another “strategic crossing” will already have been done before a spade is dug on other projects. Each project must be judged and scrutinised on its merits, but in any case, the transport committee has admitted cost-benefit analysis underestimates the usage of new crossings – so what is its solution when crossings at Blackwall, Silvertown, Gallions Reach and Belvedere are all congested and local roads gridlocked?

Why only road crossings?

It’s also disappointing that the committee has failed to recognise the role of public transport in regenerating communities – ignoring calls for an Overground extension to Abbey Wood – particularly as it admits to having been given no hard evidence that road-building can do just that. It also ignores how promoting walking and cycling can boost local areas.

Indeed, one witness cited Dartford – which faces a similarly ill-conceived scheme to Silvertown in plans to add a 4th crossing on the M25 – as an example of how areas can be regenerated by road building. This ignores the fact that Dartford town centre has actually faced huge economic difficulties over the past two decades, exacerbated by the growth of out-of-town shopping centres served by new roads.

All this report does is parrot old ideas – the same outdated ideas which, if carried out in the 1970s, would have destroyed areas such as Brockley, Camden Town and Clapham as part of the Ringways scheme.

Ignoring London’s real needs

Different parts of the country will need different solutions to help them revive and regenerate local areas. Yet the MPs’ scrutiny of the London crossing proposals was painfully weak, compounded by their failure to invite any dissenters – such as the vastly experienced former GLC planner John Elliott – to give oral evidence.

The Silvertown Tunnel, along with other proposals out to the M25, must be looked at in the context of the wider London transport network – such as the Bakerloo line extension and Crossrail 2 plans – not just in terms of crossing the river. So it’s baffling to see the committee recommend setting up a joint-purpose company to build London’s river crossings.

This will simply make planning even more remote from local people, and ignores the role of public transport in reviving London’s communities, and presumably it will do little more than provide a highly-paid job for one of the current road-building lobby.

We believe any solution to crossing the Thames should be looked at in the context of cutting congestion levels across east and south-east London as a whole, keeping unnecessary traffic out of the capital and freeing up room for essential journeys. The current proposals simply fall to address this, and the committee failed to scrutinise this vital aspect.

Taxpayers deserve better scrutiny than that offered by a committee which gives the impression that it made its mind up in advance.

Further reading:
The oral evidence on the Silvertown Tunnel and other Thames crossings.
No to Silvertown Tunnel’s written evidence.
Written evidence from former GLC transport planner John Elliott.
Follow-up evidence from John Elliott.
Building bigger roads makes traffic worse – Wired.com.
Trunk roads and the generation of traffic – 1994 Department for Transport report.
MPs criticised after calling for more road crossings – MayorWatch.

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Air pollution in Newham and Tower Hamlets – can you help us with our study?

2015 No to Silvertown Tunnel air pollution study

We’ve got the map and the equipment – but can you help us with our study?


We’re planning a new air quality study in Tower Hamlets and Newham. If you live in or near Poplar, Silvertown or Canning Town, we’d love you to take part in it.

No to Silvertown Tunnel has teamed up with Mapping For Change to carry out the survey, which will measure air quality in an area stretching from Poplar’s Aberfeldy Estate through to Britannia Village in Silvertown and Canning Town’s Keir Hardie Estate.

Results from the study will be used in the campaign against the Silvertown Tunnel, which is being proposed by TfL with the support of Newham Council and Poplar & Canning Town MP Jim Fitzpatrick.

Rather than diverting traffic away from the congested Blackwall Tunnel, the proposed Silvertown Tunnel is more likely to increase traffic and pollution in communities on both sides of the Thames.

Earlier this month, London’s deputy mayor for transport, Isabel Dedring, admitted to MPs that City Hall’s planned river crossings would lead to a “doubling of traffic” on local roads.

We’re looking for volunteers who can spare a couple of hours next week to help us install tubes that can measure levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air – and who can spare a couple of hours in early March to take them down again.

If you can spare a couple of hours between 2-6 February and 2-6 March, please get in touch via info@silvertowntunnel.co.uk. The dates are chosen to match those used by local authorities when they measure air quality.

It’ll be our third air quality survey, and it’s the first time we’ve worked with Mapping For Change, which promotes empowering local communities to become healthier and more sustainable. Alongside our project, Mapping For Change is also working on studies in Hackney and Catford, as well as another survey covering Vauxhall and Streatham.

Our first study, in 2013, investigated areas affected by the proposed tunnel south of the river, while in 2014 we looked at a broader area of south-east and east London. This new study will home in on areas directly affected by both the Silvertown Tunnel and the existing Blackwall Tunnel.

“Local politicians in Newham and Tower Hamlets don’t want to admit the Silvertown Tunnel will be a blight on east London,” No to Silvertown Tunnel campaigner Chris Taylor says.

“The Silvertown Tunnel will make a bad problem even worse by bringing new traffic to the area. We’re gathering more evidence to show them that they need to work to cut traffic levels in Poplar, Canning Town and Silvertown – not increase them. The more help we can get from locals, the better our work will be.”

No to Silvertown Tunnel is also working alongside Network for Clean Air and community groups south of the river on their own independent air quality studies. The Charlton Central Residents Association, Westcombe Society, East Greenwich Residents’ Association and a group in Slade Green, near Crayford, are all due to begin their studies in the coming months.

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