Opposition to the Silvertown Tunnel is growing – so what happens next?

A southbound jam on the A2 in Eltham - a scene that'll be even more common if the Silvertown Tunnel goes ahead

A southbound jam on the A2 in Eltham – a scene that’ll be even more common if the Silvertown Tunnel goes ahead

You might have seen some statements from TfL recently about what’s happening with the Silvertown Tunnel scheme. There’s a few things they’re keeping quiet about, and a few things you can do right now, so we thought we’d give you a quick update on where we are with the scheme.

The more people know about the Silvertown Tunnel, the more they realise it’s a barmy idea. Transport for London’s consultation results are starting to prove that.

TfL’s 2014 consultation – which was one big advert for the tunnel – had 83% of respondents backing the scheme.

But in last autumn’s consultation, this figure fell to 58%. Considering all the effort TfL has put into trying to sell the tunnel, that’s a big drop.

It’s not just public support that’s ebbing away. Lewisham and Hackney councils passed motions against it, while Southwark and Waltham Forest councils also submitted objections to the scheme.

Most tellingly, even Newham – which actually campaigned for the tunnel in 2013 – has told TfL it is unhappy with its current plans. Of the three boroughs closest to the tunnel, only Greenwich is still an enthusiastic supporter of the scheme – despite local MP Matt Pennycook also coming out against the tunnel.

The tide’s turning against the tunnel – but what happens next?

TfL had always planned to apply for permission to build the tunnel this spring, and that’s what’s happening. The TfL board met last week and gave approval for it to submit a Development Consent Order (DCO). This would give it powers to go ahead with building the tunnel.

This was expected – outgoing mayor Boris Johnson chairs TfL, and he’s keen to get the ball rolling before he leaves. (Of course, once he’s gone, the ball can be stopped. More on that shortly.)

If TfL does submit the DCO this spring, you’ll have the chance to make your own individual objection to the scheme. Because the tunnel is deemed a “nationally significant infrastructure project”, it must go through a different process than normal.

You can make an early start by signing up with the Planning Inspectorate, which will send you updates on the scheme. If TfL does apply for permission, you can then register as an “interested party” and submit objections. More on that if it happens.

After Boris – tell the next mayor to cancel the tunnel

The mayoral election is getting closer, and the winner will be able to cancel the Silvertown Tunnel the moment they get the keys to City Hall.

So it’s vitally important that you tell the candidates for mayor and the London Assembly to scrap the toxic tunnel – or they won’t get your vote. Please remember this if you get a knock on your door in the coming months.

And even if a candidate promises to scrap the tunnel, please tell them to put it in their manifesto and to keep talking about it – this would help our campaign a great deal.

Current candidates include: Sian Berry (Green), George Galloway (Respect), Zac Goldsmith (Conservative), Sadiq Khan (Labour), Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem), Sophie Walker (Women’s Equality) and Peter Whittle (Ukip).

More new roads – take part in the other crossing consultations

We’d encourage you to respond to TfL’s other crossing consultation, on options for road crossings at Gallions Reach (between Thamesmead and Beckton) and Belvedere. You’ll find it on TfL’s consultations website.

Many of the issues with the Silvertown Tunnel also apply to these new crossings.

If you’re concerned by TfL’s plans, visit Bexley Against Road Crossings.

There’s also a consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing, which would run between the M2 and M25 in Kent and Essex – visit Highways England for more.

And finally…

Boris Johnson announced last week that TfL is looking into building huge road tunnels across London – one would feed straight into the Blackwall Tunnel northern approach at Hackney Wick, the other appears to run under Greenwich and the Royal Docks to Beckton.

If you want to stop the spread of these new roads across our capital city, please help us stop the first one – let’s get the Silvertown Tunnel cancelled.

Our annual general meeting is on Thursday 18 February at Mycenae House, Blackheath at 8pm. We hope to see you there!