Hackney Council has demanded the toxic Silvertown Tunnel road scheme is axed – adding pressure on London’s mayoral hopefuls to pledge to abandon the controversial road scheme.
A motion put before the council on Wednesday night called for the £1bn tunnel, between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, to be scrapped because it would increase traffic and air pollution across east London.
“You cannot build your way out of congestion,” the motion read, adding: “The additional road capacity would lead to a significant increase in motor traffic in Hackney and significantly worsen air quality in this borough.”
Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors joined forces to pass the motion at Hackney Town Hall.
The tunnel, proposed by current mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London, would increase capacity for traffic from Kent into east London – particularly HGVs, which are banned from the northbound Blackwall Tunnel.
It would also worsen bottlenecks on both sides of the river, particularly on roads which struggle to cope with existing traffic levels.
“Citizen science” air quality studies conducted by the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign have found nitrogen dioxide levels well above EU levels in areas close to the proposed tunnel and its approach roads.
And Hackney’s call for the tunnel to be scrapped shows politicians are beginning to recognise the scheme will also do damage to a much wider area.
Labour mayoral hopeful Christian Wolmar has condemned the scheme as “a deadly disaster” while Lewisham and Southwark Councils have also expressed serious concerns.
Introducing the motion, Cllr Richard Lufkin (Labour, Shacklewell) said: “Building this tunnel will have a significant effect on traffic flow and air quality in this borough. Increased motor traffic would come flooding into Hackney, most probably at the East Cross/ Hackney Wick junction, and spread right across the borough.”
Seconding the motion, Cllr Peter Snell (Labour, Dalston) said: “The Silvertown Tunnel introduces a huge increase in lorry capacity in particular across the Thames, bringing them much, much closer to central London. It will increase the pressure on Hackney’s streets.”
Hackney’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, Cllr Feryal Demirci (Labour, Hoxton East & Shoreditch), said: “In addition to the congestion, air quality will be worsened. Thirty per cent of asthma in children in London is caused by poor air quality. In Hackney alone, we have 18 schools within metres of roads which carry more than 10,000 vehicles a day. ”
Liberal Democrat Cllr Abraham Jacobson (Cazenove) called for more sustainable crossings of the Thames: “We can have a tunnel – but for cycles and pedestrians. All you’ll have is more capacity bringing more cars. We don’t need it. Nobody needs it.”
No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign chair Nikki Coates said.
“We’re delighted that Hackney councillors have made clear their opposition to the Silvertown Tunnel. They have recognised that this toxic tunnel will only increase traffic and air pollution in east and south east London, making a bad situation even worse.
“We hope other councils and London’s mayoral candidates will sit up and see that this poorly thought-through scheme will do damage right across our city.
“The next mayor must cancel the Silvertown Tunnel.”