The MP who represents the area where the Silvertown Tunnel’s northern exit will be has sharply criticised mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans for the new road, branding it a “dirty investment”.
West Ham MP Lyn Brown added that politicians needed to make “green investments now” to avoid a “climate disaster”.
The comments came during a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday morning, with MPs having their say on net zero targets and decarbonising transport in London.
Brown’s constituency covers the area where the tunnel will emerge at Tidal Basin Roundabout, as well as Canning Town. Most of Silvertown itself and London City Airport are in the East Ham constituency represented by Stephen Timms.
Brown said that residents in her constituency needed “affordable, accessible” transport “more than anything”, and criticised the idea that the Silvertown Tunnel would improve anything for those on the north side of the Thames.
“We have to make good, green investments now and we have to stop making dirty investments,” she told MPs at the debate.
“The closest dirty investment I have to my constituency is London City Airport. [But] it’s not just about airports, there’s another big decision that has been made locally that I really want to focus on today and that’s the Silvertown Tunnel.
“In east London there’s a big problem with public transport connections across the river. The new tunnel can be no solution to this.
“Building Silvertown [Tunnel], I’m told, is going to cost £1 billion pounds, and is going to use PFI (private finance initiative), so local residents are going to have to pay for the construction through tolls.
“[For] the people of east London, where poverty is undeniably high, they’re going to pay for the joy of going south of the river.”
The MP – who said she was joined by Newham, Hackney and Lewisham councils in opposing the project – claimed that construction of the tunnel alone will cause more than 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide – the same total emissions as over 28,000 UK residents last year alone.
“The stakes are high in decisions like this – 16,000 children in Newham attend schools close to the tunnel,” she said.
“It’s not just about what’s happening in Silvertown, but it’s about the type of decisions that we are making. We need to make the right decisions now in order to prevent a climate disaster.
“I’m pleading with anyone who’ll actually listen – please, think again, stop expanding Heathrow, stop expanding City Airport, stop the Silvertown Tunnel, and don’t build the lorry park … let’s invest in green transport links instead.”
Transport for London announced in November the award of the contract to Riverlinx Consortium to design, build, finance and maintain the £1bn tunnel connecting Royal Docks and Greenwich.
Advocates say the project will relieve traffic congestion and provide new bus services.
However, critics have attacked the project for being “outdated” and fear it could simply encourage more congestion and air pollution.
Lachlan Leeming is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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