A102 fire shows why the Silvertown Tunnel’s an insane idea

TfL traffic cam shot

This morning’s fire close to the Blackwall Tunnel approach has revealed the “insanity” of plans by the Mayor of London to build a new road across the Thames from there to the Royal Docks, campaigners against the Silvertown Tunnel have warned.

A fire in a repair yard at Peterboat Close has caused closures on the A102 as the London Fire Brigade works to put the blaze out, with smoke billowing across the area earmarked for a Silvertown Tunnel approach road.

Transport for London, Greenwich Council and Newham Council claim a Silvertown Tunnel would provide an alternative route for drivers affected by delays at the Blackwall Tunnel.

But today’s fire shows their claims to be misleading, as it has resulted in the closure of the A102 as far south as the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout, causing frustration for thousands of drivers – a closure that would also hit the increased levels of traffic that would also be using the Silvertown Tunnel.

The site of the fire is adjacent to where Transport for London wants to build the slip roads for the Silvertown Tunnel.

At 10am on Thursday, queues were fanning out across south-east London – something a new road tunnel would only make worse.

Transport for London has predicted a 20% increase in traffic using the tunnel approaches if a Silvertown Tunnel is built, while mayor Boris Johnson has said the capacity would be “doubled”. Greenwich Council and Newham Council have backed TfL’s plans.

“We’re pleased to hear nobody has been injured in the incident, but today’s fire has shown the insanity of TfL’s plans for a new road tunnel at Blackwall – the road network simply can’t cope with it,” No to Silvertown Tunnel spokesperson Darryl Chamberlain said.

“It’s a sad fact that the A102 and A2 are often closed by accidents and other incidents – yet Boris Johnson, Greenwich Council and Newham Council want to rely on these roads more and more to get people across the river. None of them have even put together an economic case for the tunnel.

“The Silvertown Tunnel’s just a lazy cop-out of an idea. We should be looking at getting more traffic off the roads and building more public transport and making it easier and safer to walk and cycle, instead of encouraging more traffic and wondering why there’s gridlock when something goes wrong.”

The fire comes as No to Silvertown Tunnel releases the results of its second “citizen science” survey of air quality, conducted in association with Don’t Dump on Deptford’s Heart and Network for Clean Air.

The readings, which were taken at sites across five London boroughs in January, show horrifying pollution levels right where people live, work, shop, and go to school.

Results included levels of over two-and-a-half times the EU air pollution limit next to the A102 at Bramshot Avenue, Charlton, a favourite route for children to walk to school, and levels well above the EU limit at schools in Deptford and Charlton.

A map showing all the results is available at http://www.silvertowntunnel.co.uk/our-study/2014-silvertown-tunnel-pollution-study-results/.