Lewisham Council votes to oppose TfL’s toxic Silvertown Tunnel

Lewisham councillors fear the Silvertown Tunnel will make the notorious queues on the South Circular even worse

Lewisham councillors fear the Silvertown Tunnel will make the notorious queues on the South Circular even worse

Big news with just a few days left of TfL’s consultation – Lewisham Council has passed a motion opposing the Silvertown Tunnel.

Councillors unanimously passed the declaration, which said the planned tunnel between Greenwich and the Royal Docks “risks exacerbating rather than dispersing” traffic congestion in the area, including on the A2 and the South Circular Road in the borough.

The resulting increase in congestion also risks “a deterioration of air quality in the London Borough of Lewisham”, affecting the health of residents, it added.

Lewisham follows in the footsteps of Hackney, which passed an anti-Silvertown Tunnel motion in July.

TfL’s consultation into the £1bn scheme – the final one before it applies for planning permission – closes on Sunday. However, the final decision on whether to go ahead with the tunnel will rest with whoever succeeds Boris Johnson as London mayor next May.

See our guide to opposing the tunnel. The London Cycling Campaign also has some tips on how to say no.

Labour councillor and cabinet member for resources Kevin Bonavia poured scorn on TfL’s claims about traffic heading to the proposed tunnel.

“What TfL don’t say is how they’ll deal with the approach roads,” he said. “All they’ll have is a widening of the A102 near the tunnel – nothing about the approach roads further up.

“What does that mean for us in Lewisham, on the A2 and South Circular? More congestion.”

He also criticised TfL’s admission that there would be a “negligible” worsening of air quality in the borough because of the tunnel.

“We are suffering poor air quality now. That is simply not good enough,” he told fellow councillors at Lewisham Town Hall.

“This proposal is poorly planned, poorly placed, and only harm the poor congestion and poor air quality our residents face.”

Environment cabinet member Rachel Onikosi seconded the motion, accusing TfL of “over-egging” the case for the tunnel as a “congestion killer”, while fellow Labour councillor Suzannah Clarke said plans to toll both Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels were a “financial penalty” on local people.

Green Party councillor John Coughlin branded the Silvertown Tunnel “virtually nonsensical”, adding it was a “massive missed opportunity” for cyclists, who have few options for crossing the Thames.

“I seriously question TfL’s assertion that the Silvertown Tunnel will ‘virtually eradicate’ congestion on the Blackwall Tunnel approaches,” he said.

“We all know that if you build more roads, you get more cars; and when you get more cars, you get more air pollution – this is not a difficult thing to get our heads around.”

The motion was passed by all councillors present.

“We’re pleased Lewisham has become the second borough to pass a motion against the Silvertown Tunnel. It shows it’s not just a parochial issue in Greenwich and Newham – by generating more traffic, the Silvertown Tunnel will affect people’s lives across south and east London,” No to Silvertown Tunnel chair Nikki Coates said.

“The Silvertown Tunnel won’t do anything about the terrible traffic problems south-east London faces – in fact, it’s likely to make them worse. We’re glad Lewisham Council has recognised this and hope London’s mayoral candidates follow suit.”