Greenwich Council should reject plans to build a new road tunnel from the Royal Docks to Greenwich Peninsula to protect children attending a new school it is building close to one of London’s most congested roads, campaigners said today.
The No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign spoke out after MPs recommended that new schools should not be built close to main roads, as the pollution caused by traffic damages children’s lungs for life.
The Environmental Audit Committee recommended that new schools, hospitals and care homes should not be built on main roads, and existing schools by main roads should have air filtration systems included. No to Silvertown Tunnel contributed to the inquiry.
Despite Greenwich Council building a new school on the Greenwich Peninsula – St Mary Magdalene, due to fully open in 2015 – Transport for London plans to build the Silvertown Tunnel, feeding extra traffic into the A102, which passes the school site.
The Silvertown Tunnel will generate new traffic on the existing Blackwall Tunnel approaches, failing to clear northbound congestion, exacerbating southbound queues, and putting the wider road network under heavier strain.
A citizen science study carried out by No to Silvertown Tunnel in January showed high levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air close to the St Mary Magdalene site, which is opposite the existing Millennium Primary School.
Other schools close to roads affected by the Silvertown Tunnel scheme include Halstow Primary in Greenwich and Invicta Primary in Blackheath.
“The Environmental Audit Committee report underlines that it is insanity to build new roads through urban areas such as ours,” No to Silvertown Tunnel campaigner Jill Austen said.
“This report should be a wake-up call for policymakers and councillors across London and the rest of the UK – they can’t keep on demanding new roads when the effects of those roads damage children’s health.
“The only way you will deal with congestion is by taking traffic off the roads. Expanding capacity has been proved time and time again to be counterproductive.”
On the specific proposals in Greenwich, Jill added:
“Greenwich Council is right to be opening a much-needed new school on the peninsula. But if it’s to follow this policy through properly, it has to oppose a road project that will put the health of children across the borough at risk.
“Councillors can’t cross their fingers and hope there’ll be a magic road tunnel that won’t cause extra traffic or pollution – because that simply won’t happen.
“They need to face up to their responsibilities to children at St Mary Magdalene, Millennium Primary and other schools across the borough and oppose this dangerous scheme. Future generations deserve better than to have their health blighted by this toxic tunnel.”
Transport for London’s latest Silvertown Tunnel consultation closes on 19 December. To respond, please visit www.tfl.gov.uk/silvertown-tunnel. Please also tell your local councillors, MP and London Assembly members what you think – get their details at www.writetothem.com.