East Londoners who already have to endure toxic levels of air pollution will face more HGVs thundering through their neighbourhoods if the next London mayor does not cancel the controversial Silvertown Tunnel, campaigners are warning.
The road tunnel, which is being promoted by current mayor Boris Johnson, will run from Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks, and is being designed to attract HGVs that cannot use the existing Blackwall Tunnel.
The No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign, which represents residents on both sides of the Thames opposed to the new road, measured nitrogen dioxide levels at 25 locations in Poplar, Canning Town and Silvertown, across he boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham. The “citizen science” study was carried out in February using tubes attached to lamp posts.
Most readings were above the EU legal limit of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre, with some near double the level.
Nitrogen dioxide pollution at the tunnel’s proposed northern exit at Tidal Basin Roundabout is already at 65µg/m³, while the junction of East India Dock Road and Leamouth Road – which will see extra HGVs heading to the A12 – saw readings of 75µg/m³.
We also recorded 71µg/m³ where Newham Way meets Butchers Road in Canning Town, close to Kier Hardie Primary School.
Nitrogen dioxide levels at North Woolwich Road, by the Britannia Village housing development, reached 63µg/m³, while levels outside Hadlow Primary School in Canning Town break EU limits at 44µg/m³.
On Poplar’s Aberfeldy Estate, we found levels of 63µg/m³ on Abbott Road.
Mapping For Change, a charity which helps local communities campaign on issues relating to their neighbourhoods, funded the study.
Backers of the Silvertown Tunnel include Newham’s elected mayor Sir Robin Wales, who admitted to MPs earlier this year that his borough would see more congestion as a result of the scheme.
“The Silvertown Tunnel is being sold as a silver bullet for pollution and congestion, but in fact it’ll make matters worse by making it easier for heavy lorries to come into east London from Kent and the Channel ports,” No to Silvertown Tunnel chair Nikki Coates said.
“We’re being told it’s needed to relieve Blackwall Tunnel congestion, but existing routes north of the river such as the Lower Lea Crossing and East India Dock Road already struggle to cope with traffic levels.
“We shouldn’t be encouraging HGVs to use east and south-east London as a bypass – the consequences will reach far and wide. Instead we need better measures to deal with oversized lorries before they reach Blackwall Tunnel, and more investment in better walking, cycling and rail connections across the Thames.”