A promised review of river crossing in East London has been labeled a “sham” after Mayor Sadiq Khan declined to halt work on the controversial Silvertown tunnel.
The tunnel, which was first proposed by Transport for London during Boris Johnson’s time at City Hall, would connect the Greenwich Peninsula with Royal Docks.
TfL says it would reduce congestion and support regeneration on both sides of the river, however some local residents and environmental campaigners oppose the scheme, claiming it would increase pollution and traffic.
In the build up to this month’s City Hall elections Mr Khan promised to conduct a “proper joined up review” of river crossings in East London but stopped short of pledging to axe the Silvertown project.
At Wednesday’s Mayor’s Question Time Khan was asked by Green AM Caroline Russell to suspend an application for government consent to build the tunnel until after his review was completed.
Declining to do so, the Mayor suggested the tunnel could reduce congestion in other parts of London and so help cut vehicle emissions.
Mrs Russell says Mr Khans’ review “will be a sham if he lets plans for this major crossing reach an advanced stage.”
She commented: “New roads bring new traffic and pollution.
“East London is already one of the most polluted parts of the capital so building huge new roads would make a bad situation even worse for local people.”
The Mayor’s decision to proceed with the application has also been criticised by local campaign group No to Silvertown Tunnel.
Chair Anne Robbins said: “Nobody is denying Blackwall Tunnel congestion isn’t a problem, but the Silvertown Tunnel will only make the situation worse. Even a tunnel for ‘cleaner vehicles’ would just send more polluting traffic into local areas to head to the Rotherhithe Tunnel. The tunnel will cost Londoners £107m before the diggers even start work – money TfL could put to better use elsewhere.”
She added: “Sadiq Khan needs to pull the scheme out of planning, and urgently look again at a scheme that will damage the lives of communities across east and south-east London.”
Mr Khan’s office insists the scheme will be reviewed “alongside a six month public examination of the scheme, which is expected to begin as part of the planning process later this year.”
A spokesperson added: “The Mayor made a commitment in his manifesto to deliver the major infrastructure that London needs for the long term, including new river crossings for east London.”