Burying bad news: TfL’s latest Silvertown Tunnel report reveals widespread worries about congestion and pollution

Sun in the Sands roundabout

Transport for London is crossings its fingers and hoping the A102 can carry the extra load from the Silvertown Tunnel

Transport for London quietly slipped out its report into the last Silvertown Tunnel consultation on Thursday afternoon – burying some bad news for its plans to build a new road between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks.

After years of TfL and some local councils using their marketing budgets to push the tunnel – and mixing it up with other crossings – the headline result is what City Hall would have wanted. After all, who doesn’t want to get across the Thames more easily?

Yet this was the first time TfL has actually consulted about this crossing alone, instead of trying to sneak it through along with other new road schemes.

And once you get beyond the simple “yes/no” tick box and actually invite people to think about the effects of a crossing at this location, the fears about this toxic tunnel making congestion and pollution even worse run through this report like a motto in a stick of rock.

How will the existing A102 be able to cope with 20% more traffic – particularly heading southbound? What about its effects on air pollution? Why is TfL prioritising new roads rather than new public transport connections?

It’s not just the public who are worried. The companies and organisations who depend on local traffic to run smoothly are also coming out against the scheme.

The ExCel exhibition centre has voiced its fears about the Silvertown Tunnel – it knows the Lower Lea Crossing can barely cope with traffic as it is, because its customers already get stuck in queues. (See the video above filmed during the Baby Show in February.) Landowner Quintain is also unhappy about TfL’s plans.

South of the river, Southern Gas Networks – whose staff have been on the Greenwich Peninsula longer than anyone else – is against the scheme, arguing it’ll be poor value for money. And Millennium Primary School has rightly pointed out that the tunnel will make traffic worse, not better; and that MPs have recommended new roads should not be built near schools.

The report also reveals deep unhappiness at the level of information TfL provided with the consultation. Is TfL trying to railroad through this dangerous scheme without doing its homework?

And TfL’s strategy of telling people they can have new roads without any adverse consequences finally comes unstuck on the question of tolling – as the report reveals most respondents were opposed to charging for Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels.

TfL tweets

Transport for London’s publicity was designed to secure a simple majority in favour of the tunnel – but when people were invited to think about the consequences, a very different story emerged

These consultation results show how residents and businesses are starting to see through TfL’s slogans and shiny videos. They know building new roads just leads to more traffic – and this is something we can’t afford with local streets already congested.

The Silvertown Tunnel is no solution to the Blackwall Tunnel’s problems – it’ll make other bottlenecks worse and leave London still depending on the 1897 tunnel for the main northbound route.

Instead of digging itself further into a hole, Transport for London should abandon this scheme now.

It needs to make crossing the river easier by cutting traffic on London’s roads, boosting public transport and making walking and cycling easier, instead of making matters worse by flying headlong into poorly-thought out new roads such as the Silvertown Tunnel.