Climate change activists have protested outside City Hall this morning as part of a new campaign against the planned Silvertown Tunnel.
Protesters met London Assembly members Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) and Caroline Russell (Green) and handed in a letter for mayor Sadiq Khan asking him to scrap the £1 billion project to build a new road between the Greenwich Peninsula and Royal Docks.
The scheme, which will see the new road tolled alongside the Blackwall Tunnel, was given the go-ahead by transport secretary Chris Grayling last year. Work is due to begin later this year and the tunnel is expected to be completed by early 2025.
But the new Stop the Silvertown Tunnel Coalition says the scheme is incompatible with the “climate emergency” declared by Khan, and want him to think again. Transport for London, which Khan chairs, is due to award a contract to build and operate the tunnel this summer.
One protester, Karen Janody, said: “The Mayor has declared a climate emergency, and he has been vocal about the need to clean up London’s polluted air. We must rethink what is needed for the wellbeing of our children. Offsetting and mitigation is not sufficient. To halt increasing respiratory illnesses and climate change we have to reduce motor traffic in London by 80% by 2030.”
Another activist, Victoria Rance, added: “We believe that the Mayor really cares about children’s developing lungs and brains, so we want him taking action to reduce HGV traffic. But this scheme encourages it. This new tunnel is deliberately designed to allow larger, heavier, more polluting HGVs to re-route through South East London, near where children live, play and go to school.”
“We are certain that if the mayor looks again at the Silvertown Tunnel scheme, he will decide that it’s better to invest the £1bn in projects that move London towards a clean zero-emissions future, such as electric buses, safer cycling, and smart road pricing,” Matt Stratford, a campaigner for the coalition said.
Greenwich Council has steadfastly backed the tunnel since it was first proposed by Conservative mayor Boris Johnson in 2012. Khan, his successor, promised a review of the scheme, but approved it five weeks after being elected.
Newham Council has opposed the tunnel since the election of mayor Rokhsana Fiaz a year ago – at the same time as the tunnel got government approval. An attempt to change Greenwich Labour policy on the tunnel failed earlier this year after two councillors in Peninsula ward, where the tunnel will be built, voted against a change in a behind-closed-doors meeting, despite aligning themselves with opponents to the tunnel in last May’s council election.
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