What is the Silvertown Tunnel and why are protesters urging Sadiq Khan to halt plans?

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Silvertown tunnel protesters are urging Sadiq Khan to halt plans.  (TfL)
Silvertown tunnel protesters are urging Sadiq Khan to halt plans. (TfL)

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has complained about Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz in an ongoing row over the Silvertown Tunnel project.

The Newham mayor shared a tweet from a campaign group that accused TfL and the London mayor of lying about the benefits of the tunnel, leading the mayor’s office to complain about Ms Fiaz’ conduct.

The Silvertown Tunnel has been a contentious issue, with both Newham council and Greenwich council opposing the plans.

Campaigners are also hoping to halt the tunnel over concerns about traffic and air pollution.

Find out everything you need to know about the Silvertown Tunnel below.

What is the Silvertown Tunnel?

The Silvertown Tunnel is a planned 0.9-mile tunnel under the River Thames linking the Royal Docks and the North Greenwich peninsula.

Permission for the tunnel was granted in May 2018, and a £1 billion contract was signed in 2019. Construction is about to begin, with the aim of opening the tunnel in 2025.

The proposed route of the Silvertown Tunnel (TfL)
The proposed route of the Silvertown Tunnel (TfL)

TfL described the tunnel as “a modern tunnel combined with a user charge and improved cross-river public transport will improve the reliability and resilience of the wider road network.”

TfL says the tunnel “will help reduce chronic congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel and allow for better public transport links, including more cross-river bus journeys.”

The Silvertown Tunnel would also help ease delays at Blackwall Tunnel, according to TfL, and would “reduce the environmental impact of traffic congestion on some of London’s most polluted roads.”

Why are there protests against the Silvertown Tunnel?

Protesters believe that the tunnel will increase traffic and air pollution in London, and are therefore arguing that a toll be placed on Silvertown Tunnel as well as Blackwall Tunnel to deter motorists.

The Stop the Silvertown Tunnel campaign group has accused TfL and the Mayor’s Office of lying about the tunnel’s benefits.

In a tweet, the cross-party group said: “Silvertown does not ‘enable sustainable growth’.

“It enables a 30% increase in motor traffic—unsustainable, fossil-fuelled, carbon-intensive, polluting growth—and exactly what the Mayor’s own policies argue that we should be moving away from…”

Campaigners are also urging TfL and the Mayor’s office to encourage and promote the use of public transport, should construction of the tunnel go ahead.

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