Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has been urged to “come clean” about whether he would go-ahead with the controversial Silvertown tunnel river crossing.
The tunnel would connect the Greenwich Peninsula with Royal Docks, both of which are earmarked for major redevelopment, however some local residents and environmental campaigners oppose the scheme which they say would increase pollution and traffic in the area.
Earlier this week Mr Khan criticised current plans for the project, saying they “do not fully take into consideration the importance of greener transport,” but failed to pledge to axe the scheme if elected next month. Instead he promised to set up “a proper joined up review” of East London river crossings.
Transport for London intends to impose tolls on drivers using the tunnel, both to fund its construction and limit the number of vehicles using it. However Mr Khan told Transport Network that “a toll is in many people’s minds a tax on East and South East Londoners”.
Mr Khan’s comments have been criticised by Green party mayoral runner Sian Berry who said his opposition to tolls risked creating “another unclear and unfunded promise” which would “deepen the black hole in TfL’s finances”.
She told MayorWatch: “Without tolling we will just repeat the experience of the 1960s when the Blackwall Tunnel was widened and traffic more than doubled in the first year.
“Building the Silvertown Tunnel without tolling would inevitably cause chaos, congestion and worsening illegal pollution across a wide area.
“The tolls are Transport for London’s fig leaf which allows them to falsely claim they are keeping a firm lid on traffic and pollution.
“Sadiq must be aware that if you take away the tolls, then the Silvertown Tunnel has zero chance of getting planning permission and his review will show that.”
Ms Berry has pledged to axe TfL’s plans to build more roads and instead invest the money into public transport services and a new footbridge from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf.
Londoners will elect a new Mayor and the 25 members of the London Assembly on May 5th. Candidates for Mayor include Conservative Zac Goldsmith, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon, the Green party’s Sian Berry and UKIP’s Peter Whittle.