Category Archives: News

Silvertown Tunnel decision delayed again: Time for Sadiq Khan to show leadership and scrap this toxic tunnel

A102 pollution

Pollution over the A102 on Thursday 2 November. This would be a key route to the Silvertown Tunnel

The decision on whether the Silvertown Tunnel will be built has been delayed again – this time until May 2018 – to allow issues surrounding air quality to be considered further.

We think this gives London mayor Sadiq Khan and his deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross, the ideal chance to show leadership and cancel a scheme which threatens to increase pollution and congestion across large areas of south-east and east London.

After six months of planning hearings, the Secretary of State for Transport was due to have made a decision by October on whether the tunnel, which would run from the Royal Docks to the Greenwich Peninsula, should be built.

But last month Transport Minister Paul Maynard delayed a decision until 10 November. Now he’s put it off even longer, setting a new deadline of 10 May 2018.

No to Silvertown Tunnel – a group of residents on both sides of the Thames – has been fighting this scheme since it first emerged under Boris Johnson’s mayoralty, and has gained cross-party support for its campaign. Three affected boroughs – Hackney, Lewisham and Southwark – opposed the tunnel at planning hearings.

When we started our campaign, concerns about the tunnel and air pollution were ignored by many London politicians. We see the lengthy delay to the planning process as, in part, a vindication of the time and energy we and our valued supporters have put into the campaign.

But this delay must now be used to finally kill off this tunnel, and to consider new ways of cutting congestion and improving links across the River Thames.

No to Silvertown Tunnel chair Anne Robbins says:

“We’ve offered to talk to Sadiq Khan and Val Shawcross about our concerns but have never even been sent a response. They need to stop running away from this issue and must now face up to their responsibilities.

“This delay gives them the opportunity to cancel a scheme which will do huge damage to communities on both sides of the Thames, and one which will simply end up making congestion worse across a wide area.

“Sadiq Khan is serious about tackling air pollution, but he needs to show leadership and scrap this toxic tunnel.”

Silvertown Tunnel decision delayed until November

A102

A decision on whether the Silvertown Tunnel will be built has been delayed until November to allow for further consideration of air quality issues.

Today is six months since the end of the public examination into the scheme. An announcement had been due to be made this morning.

But Transport Minister Paul Maynard has released a written statement to the House of Commons extending the deadline until 10 November.

During the summer, the Department for Transport asked those involved in the public examination for their views on how the Silvertown Tunnel fits in with the government’s new plan to deal with air pollution. The extension of the deadline is to allow more time for those responses to be considered.

We at No to Silvertown Tunnel have always maintained that the Silvertown Tunnel is likely to increase congestion, and so will also increase pollution. We hope the final decision will recognise what we have believed all along – that the Silvertown Tunnel represents a reckless gamble with the health and wellbeing of thousands of Londoners, and should be abandoned.

Thank you for your support so far. See you back here next month…

The Silvertown Tunnel planning examination is over – what happens next?

Silvertown Tunnel planning hearing

We’re coming to the end of Transport for London’s application to build the Silvertown Tunnel.

The public examination into the scheme – effectively a fast-tracked planning inquiry – closed on 11 April. The inspectors have three months to give their recommendations to the Secretary of State for Transport, then we should get a final decision by early autumn.

We’ve had volunteers present at most of the hearings since the process began back in October. The examination – which has been very thorough – has uncovered flaws and contradictions in TfL’s case for building the tunnel and charging for both it and the Blackwall Tunnel.

The process is, in part, meant to resolve problems with the scheme and encourage parties to find common ground.

But the boroughs – even those that support the tunnel – are still unhappy with TfL’s traffic modelling, upon which its predictions of congestion and pollution depend. TfL has also been making some late changes to the scheme, which raise new questions about the validity of its modelling.

While we wait for the final decision, we’d like to thank all those who wrote to the Planning Inspectorate to offer their reasons why the Silvertown Tunnel should be rejected.

You can see all the papers and submissions on the Planning Inspectorate website.

Terry Grant air quality studies

Four local groups – based in and around Beckenham, Blackheath, Brockley and Eltham – carried out air quality studies a few weeks ago thanks to money donated at the funeral of one of our volunteers.

Terry Grant, who died last July, helped us with our original air quality studies in 2013 and 2014.

We wanted to honour his memory, so funded some groups that hadn’t done air quality studies before so they could measure the pollution in their own areas.

The groups carried out their studies in March, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results. Thanks to Andrew Wood at Network for Clean Air for helping us and the groups with these studies.

What happens next? Come to our annual general meeting

We’d like to invite you to No to Silvertown Tunnel‘s annual general meeting. It’ll be at Mycenae House, Blackheath, on Tuesday 16 May at 8pm.

With the end of the planning process near, we’ll need to make some decisions about the future of the campaign. Here’s the agenda for the meeting.

Mycenae House is 10 minutes’ walk from Westcombe Park station (trains from Cannon Street, Greenwich and Woolwich Arsenal) and close to bus routes 53, 54, 108, 202, 380, 386 and 422.

There’s a licensed bar, which will also be open after the meeting.

So please come along – it’ll be great to see you. As always, if you have any questions, please drop us a line on info@silvertowntunnel.co.uk.

Want to carry out air pollution tests in your neighbourhood? We can help you

No to Silvertown Tunnel surveys

Left: No to Silvertown Tunnel volunteer Ian Blore outside Meridian Primary School in Greenwich. Right: Our committee members Chris Taylor and Jill Austen in Peartree Way, also in Greenwich.

Update – 12 January 2017: Applications for this scheme have now closed.

Have you ever wondered just how pollution affects your neighbourhood? We’re offering local communities the funding to carry out their own air pollution tests in the New Year.

Since 2013, the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign has carried out three different air pollution studies in south-east and east London. The studies are simple – you tie tubes to lamp posts, leave them there for four weeks, then you take them down and send them to a laboratory, which analyses the results and sends them back to you.

2013 study: east Greenwich, Blackheath, Charlton and around the A102 and A2
2014 study: across Greenwich and Lewisham boroughs, plus parts of Bexley, Newham and Southwark (with help from Don’t Dump on Deptford’s Heart)
2015 study: around Canning Town, Poplar and Silvertown

We used these studies to highlight the state of the air on roads affected by Blackwall Tunnel traffic, and to point out the threat the Silvertown Tunnel poses to these areas.

The studies were really valuable to us. In fact, they’re even highlighted in Transport for London’s own air quality reports into the tunnel scheme. Our work has also kick-started other pollution study projects in east Greenwich, Charlton and Slade Green.

Now we’d like to see more groups carry them out in different areas – so we’re offering funding for two community groups to work with our friends at Network for Clean Air to carry out their own studies in the New Year.

The money comes from donations given at the funeral of Terry Grant, who helped us with our studies in 2013 and 2014. Terry was a big supporter of our campaign, and we’re very grateful to his family for offering us the money to help us do this.

We’d like to measure our own air pollution – what do we need to do?

We’re keen to hear from people in south-east or east London who want to carry out their own studies.

You don’t have to be a formal residents’ group. You could be a group of neighbours concerned about the air in your street, or parents worried about what your children are breathing. It could also be for a school project, or for just one or two streets. (We were inspired to carry out our studies by the Putney Society‘s work on Putney High Street, which has now forced City Hall into declaring it a “green bus zone”).

But you and your group do need to be able to give up a few hours to put the tubes up, and a few more to take them down four weeks later. You can then use the results to get press attention and lobby politicians for action.

Interested? Please e-mail us – info@silvertowntunnel.co.uk – before Wednesday 11 January.

To be considered, please let us know…

  • the specific area you are thinking of covering,
  • why you want to do it (it doesn’t have to be Silvertown Tunnel-related),
  • how many tubes you think you’ll need (we reckon between six and 16, but this will depend on how large or small an area you’re thinking of covering),
  • what you’d like to do with the results,
  • how many people you’d be working with.

We’re also very keen to hear from groups who haven’t done this before, and in areas that haven’t been studied before.

We’ll be bearing these criteria in mind when we work out which projects to fund. This is aimed at groups of people who want to study pollution in a particular area – we’re not offering funding for single tubes outside people’s homes, and we aren’t interested in applications from individuals who aren’t working with other people.

If we choose you, we’ll put you in touch with Network For Clean Air, who will obtain the tubes and help you get started.

So, please have a chat with friends or neighbours, and drop us a line.

What’s happening with the Silvertown Tunnel? A quick update…

Wednesday afternoon smog over the A102 heading away from the Blackwall Tunnel

Wednesday afternoon smog over the A102 heading away from the Blackwall Tunnel


The public examination into Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Silvertown Tunnel proposals is in full swing. Here’s what we’re doing while all this is going on – and a couple of things you can do, too.

Khan backed the Silvertown Tunnel after becoming mayor, but the final decision isn’t down to him. We’re now in a six-month process of public hearings overseen by the Planning Inspectorate.

A three-strong panel is sifting through the arguments, and they will make a recommendation on whether or not to back the tunnel in April 2017. It then goes to the Secretary of State for Transport for a final decision.

As part of this, we’ve submitted a 9,000-word written representation, drawing on views from residents and transport experts as well as our take on what’s in TfL’s application. You can read our written representation on the Planning Inspectorate’s website – along with everyone else’s.

We attended the first hearings, which were held at ExCel in October.

Who’s saying what?

What struck us as interesting is that the major landowners on the Greenwich Peninsula – Knight Dragon and the firms behind the O2 – are currently objecting to the scheme because of the way it will be constructed.

It seems to us that the reliability of TfL’s traffic modelling will be the key to whether this gets approved or not – since everything else follows from that.

Yet we’re seeing demands from Newham Council and others to give residents discounts on using the tunnel, along with heavy hints from Sadiq Khan that this could be on the cards – even though this would throw TfL’s predictions for traffic levels in disarray.

The next set of hearings will be at the Crystal, also in the Royal Docks, next week. They’ll be dealing with traffic modelling and compulsory purchases of land. We’ll be at the hearing on traffic modelling on 7 December. There’ll be further hearings in January, at a location to be decided.

If you’ve any questions about the planning process, give the Planning Inspectorate’s project team a call on 0303 444 5000 or visit its website.

What else is happening?

If you have a moment spare, there are some more things you can do…

  • Ever wanted to carry out an air pollution study in your neighbourhood? We’ll shortly be announcing a scheme to help communities carry out the kinds of studies we’ve done in the past. If you’d like to team up with neighbours to do one yourself, have a think about it – we’ll announce more details soon.
  • The Mayor is still consulting on his plans to tackle air pollution in London. We believe the Silvertown Tunnel will undermine these proposals, and that the Ultra Low Emissions Zone should cover all of Greater London, not just the area within the North and South Circular. Tell him what you think (you can mention the tunnel at question 14): https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/environment/air-quality-consultation-phase-2/
  • Live north of the proposed tunnel? There are plans to include new pedestrian crossings on the A12 at Bromley-by-Bow. Find out more, and how to respond, from Diamond Geezer: http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/bromley-by-bow-south-masterplan.html
  • Live south of the proposed tunnel? TfL and Greenwich Council are planning to rip out the bus lane through Greenwich Millennium Village. Take part in the consultation: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/west-parkside/

Finally, we’re having some Christmas drinks on Sunday 18 December at the Woolwich Equitable pub, General Gordon Place SE18 5AB – opposite Woolwich Arsenal National Rail/DLR station. We’d love to see as many people as possible – we’ll be there from 7.30pm.

Help stop the Silvertown Tunnel: Come to the public hearings on 13 October

Millennium Mills

Plans to regenerate areas like the Royal Docks are going ahead without spending £1 billion on a road tunnel


What are you doing on Thursday 13 October? Come and share your views on the Silvertown Tunnel at the planning inquiry’s open public session at ExCeL in the Royal Docks.

Now the planning process for the Silvertown Tunnel has got under way, there’s a lot of work for us to do – such as sifting through thousands of pages of documents about the proposed tunnel, and putting together evidence to go before the panel of inspectors.

We’re grateful that so many people signed up to be “registered parties” in the planning process. If you’re one of them – thank you. If you can spare the time, we’d encourage you to take as big a role in this as you can, because everybody’s view counts in this process.

While Sadiq Khan may have committed himself to the toxic tunnel, it’s by no means a done deal – and there’s still plenty of opposition to the scheme. Even two of the Greenwich Peninsula’s biggest landowners – Knight Dragon and O2 operators AEG – have filed detailed objections.

So even if you didn’t sign up, there’s one big thing you can do – and that’s come to ExCeL on Thursday 13 October.

On that day, the planning inspectors will be holding open floor hearings – one during the daytime, the other in the evening. Anyone is welcome to come along and make their case.

We’ll be there – but if we’re to really make our voice heard, it’d be great if you could spare some time to come too.

There are two sessions – one at 10am, the other at 7pm – and the public is welcome. ExCeL is a few minutes’ walk from Custom House station on the DLR, and is also close to the Royal Docks cable car terminal. (Here are some more detailed directions.)

So if you’ve got a particularly strong viewpoint, or a personal story to tell about the damage congestion and pollution has done, please come and tell the inspectors all about it.

It’s not essential, but the Planning Inspectorate’s staff would be grateful to hear from you in advance so they have an idea of how many people will come – please email them on silvertowntunnel@pins.gsi.gov.uk if you want to come, or have any questions about the process.

Thank you for your support – and if you can make it, we hope to see you on the 13th.

Sadiq Khan’s ‘greener’ Silvertown Tunnel is a betrayal, campaigners say

A new tunnel feeding into this A102 southbound queue can only make congestion and pollution worse.

A new tunnel feeding into this A102 southbound queue can only make congestion and pollution worse.

Sadiq Khan’s backing for the Silvertown Tunnel is a betrayal of those who voted for him believing he would clean up London’s air, campaigners said today.

The London mayor has announced he will support the £1bn project to create a new road tunnel between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Dock, after distancing himself from the scheme while running for election.

The tunnel proposals are currently at the planning stage, with the first stage of the inquiry due to begin next week.

Opponents of the tunnel include Lewisham and Hackney councils, while two of the Greenwich Peninsula’s biggest landowners – Knight Dragon and O2 operators AEG – have submitted detailed objections to the planning inquiry.

“For Sadiq Khan to call this a ‘greener Silvertown Tunnel’ hides the fact that Greenwich and the Royal Docks would be a dumping ground for the south of England’s congestion and pollution,” No to Silvertown Tunnel chair Anne Robbins says.

“He talks a good game when it comes to pollution and congestion in central London, but communities in east and south east London clearly don’t seem to matter as much. They will be living with even worse traffic and poorer air.”

“Khan promised a full review of the tunnel, but has made no attempt to reach out to those who’ll have to live with the consequences if his scheme is given the go-ahead.”

While the new tunnel is aimed at solving the problem of northbound queues at the Blackwall Tunnel, it is likely to exacerbate traffic congestion elsewhere on the network, such as heading southbound through Sun-in-the-Sands on the A2 and, north of the river, along the Lower Lea Crossing and Aspen Way.

It will also enable the biggest HGVs to cross the Thames at this point, bringing more of these dangerous and polluting vehicles into east London.

Khan’s main idea to “green” the tunnel is a “cycle bus” scheme to enable cyclists to cross the Thames at this point – similar to a scheme that’s been operating at the Dartford crossing since the 1960s.

People affected by the scheme will have the chance to put their views to planning inspectors at special “open floor hearings” due to take place at the ExCeL centre in the Royal Docks on Thursday 13 October, at 10am and 7pm.

We’ve lost a friend: Thank you, Terry Grant

Terry was one of the volunteers who helped us with our first two pollution studies, putting up tubes like the one above

Terry was one of the volunteers who helped us with our first two pollution studies, putting up tubes like the one above

We at No to Silvertown Tunnel were saddened to hear of the death of Terry Grant, who helped our campaign get off the ground and provided significant support to us.

Terry Grant

Terry Grant

A former police sergeant, Terry was a lynchpin of the successful campaign to stop the Thames Gateway Bridge, turning up each day to the year-long public inquiry that helped bring an end to Ken Livingstone’s plans for a major road crossing between Beckton and Thamesmead.

We were introduced to Terry by Jenny Bates of Friends of the Earth, another veteran of that campaign, when we were planning our first air pollution study in 2013, conducted in association with Network for Clean Air. Together with fellow campaigner Barbara Gill, he helped us with that study, putting tubes on lamp posts to help us measure nitrogen dioxide in streets close to the Blackwall Tunnel southern approach.

The following year, he helped us with our bigger study, which involved teaming up with campaigners in Deptford to place 100 tubes on lamp posts across east and south-east London.

Terry and Barbara helped us cover locations in the east of our study areas. For our second study, to save us the worry and expense of couriering 100 nitrogen dioxide tubes to a laboratory in Oxford, Terry even drove them there for us.

He also ran a cinema night in the hall at Mycenae House in Blackheath, which often coincided with our committee meetings upstairs. That night played a big part in turning Mycenae House into the thriving community venue it is today.

Terry would always stop for a chat and to regale us with some seaside humour. We always said that if we ever held a benefit night, we’d give Terry an open mic spot. We’re devastated we won’t get the chance to do that.

We were all new to campaigning, but Terry’s presence always offered reassurance. He provided us with advice and financial support, as well as practical help, for which we remain hugely grateful.

Terry’s daughter, Jackie, told us:

“He used to talk about being on one of the London bridges as a young policeman in the ‘70s and the smog being so thick he couldn’t see his hand. He was genuinely outraged by the unnecessary deaths pollution caused – and horrified when he learned all about the problems with NO2 from the bridge campaign. He was particularly annoyed that this pollution was invisible, making it more difficult to campaign against. But this frustration worked well to motivate him.

“I remember once going for coffee with him in Greenwich several years ago when a group of people came up to him enthusiastically to catch up – and afterwards him proudly explaining they were his friends from the bridge campaigning group. He really enjoyed being part of this work, learned a huge amount and felt it was incredibly important.”

Terry, who lived in Bexleyheath, died on 28 July following a stroke two weeks before. He was 74. We’ll miss him, and our condolences go to his wife, Juliet, and his daughters Jackie and Josephine.

Here’s how to tell the planning inspectors you don’t want the Silvertown Tunnel

Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach

The Silvertown Tunnel will do nothing to stop queues like this, heading south to the Blackwall Tunnel at Bromley-by-Bow

Your voice can help stop the Silvertown Tunnel – and you’ve got until the end of August to sign up as an objector to the scheme.

Despite growing objections to the tunnel – from residents, politicians and campaign groups – London mayor Sadiq Khan has allowed the proposal to stay in the planning process.

If we’re to stop this expensive waste of time, all of us who want to see the tunnel stopped need to take part in this process. So please take a few minutes to register as an objector to the tunnel before 31 August.

This planning process is being watched closely at City Hall. The more objections received, the more chance we have of getting this thing scrapped.

What’s going on?

The tunnel’s been designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. So the decision’s not being taken by local councils, it’s in the hands of the Planning Inspectorate. It’ll appoint an “examining authority” (which we expect to be a panel of three or more people) to study responses and decide on the arguments surrounding the proposal. You’ll find all the relevant documents here.

To take part in this, you need to register as an interested party, and then make a relevant representation – something short that sums up your opposition to the tunnel. Later, you’ll be asked to submit something more detailed.

Ready to begin? Here’s the form you need to fill in.

What should I write?

Quite simply, you should outline why you think the tunnel is a bad idea. Please don’t make sweeping statements about national or London/local policies – the panel won’t be interested.

Keep it short and to the point, on why you think the tunnel will have a negative impact on your community or on London as a whole. Please keep it to less than 500 words.

Is there a personal impact on you from the tunnel? Perhaps your neighbourhood will suffer from increased noise or pollution, or the extra traffic or tolling will make life harder for your business. If so, please make sure you include this in your representation.

Here are 10 points you might like to consider including:

  • New roads generate more traffic. The tunnel won’t make the road network more resilient – it’ll only increase congestion. (You might like to name specific roads or areas here.)
  • The scheme will not support regeneration in the affected areas, as claimed, and won’t provide the promised economic and social benefits.
  • TfL has not properly considered alternatives, including new public transport and better management of the existing network.
  • Risks to the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site have not been properly considered.
  • TfL hasn’t given adequate information on the environmental impacts of the scheme (for example, its air quality assessments are still preliminary ones).
  • There isn’t adequate mitigation for noise pollution (you might like to name affected areas).
  • The environmental impact of better access for HGVs and buses has not been properly considered.
  • TfL has not properly considered the effects of tolling on the wider road network (for example, on routes to the Rotherhithe Tunnel, which would remain free, though you may also have other examples).
  • Tolling will also have a negative impact on local businesses – firms in other parts of London will not have to pay charges to get around.
  • There’s been insufficient consultation with communities that will be affected by the scheme.

This factsheet from the Planning Inspectorate will give you more guidance in how to respond.

What are we saying?

You can see our full submission here. Feel free to refer to this in your response.

What happens next?

If the Planning Inspectorate decides your response is relevant, it’ll write back to you and let you know that you’ve become an “interested party”. This means you can take part in the planning process.

Later this year, it’ll hold a preliminary meeting to decide on the nuts and bolts of the inquiry (not the proposal itself) – the main issues, the timetable, and other matters. You’ll be able to speak at this.

You’ll also be able to submit more detailed evidence – so if you have particular expertise in one aspect of the proposal, then you may like to bear this in mind.

The Planning Inspectorate has more information on how it all works (scroll down to advice note eight), and you can also call or email it with any questions you may have.

This process should be over in spring 2017, when the panel will come up with a recommendation. It’ll then go to the Secretary of State for Transport for a final decision.

What else can I do?

As always, you may like to copy your response and send it to your local London Assembly members, MP and/or councillors. You can get their details via www.writetothem.com. We’d also like to see your response – particularly if you’re using a point we haven’t made. Email us at info@silvertowntunnel.co.uk.

Please take part in this – your responses are a powerful weapon

The more people take part in this process, the more the panel will see the strength of opinion against this ill thought-through scheme. If you have a residents’ group, tenants’ group or amenity society, please consider asking them to respond too. You may also like to share this post on social media.

Please fill in the form by 31 August – the Silvertown Tunnel is too important and dangerous a proposal to allow others to speak for you.

Tell Sadiq Khan: If you take air quality seriously, scrap the Silvertown Tunnel

St Mildred's Road

The South Circular as it enters Catford: we think polluting vehicles should be banned from here too

Have you got 10 minutes free? If you do, then you can do something quick that’ll tell Sadiq Khan that if he takes air pollution seriously, he needs to scrap the Silvertown Tunnel.

A few weeks ago, London’s mayor launched a consultation into what to do about our city’s air pollution problem. He has a number of ideas – one of them is expanding the planned Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) so it runs to the North and South Circular roads.

On the whole, we think it’s good that Sadiq Khan is taking some action on air pollution.

But carrying on with the Silvertown Tunnel proposal – which will attract more traffic and more pollution to our streets – threatens to undo this work.

We also think the ULEZ should be widened to cover all of London, as Khan’s proposals miss out pollution hotspots such as Plumstead and Catford.

So, please head here (you’ll need to sign up for an account with the City Hall website) and tell the mayor what you think.

When you get to the free text in question 18, please remind him that if he wants to take the issue seriously, he needs to scrap the Silvertown Tunnel. Please act quickly – the consultation closes this Friday.

If you’re a resident of Lewisham or Greenwich boroughs, and you’ve got a bit more time, you can also have your say on new air quality strategies for these areas.

For Lewisham Council, head here. If you live in Greenwich, go here.

We’ll be back in touch soon with some help in responding to the Silvertown Tunnel planning process.

Join No to Silvertown Tunnel at Lewisham People’s Day this Saturday

Last year's Lewisham People's Day in Mountsfield Park

Last year’s Lewisham People’s Day in Mountsfield Park

We’re pleased to announce we’ll be at south-east London’s biggest community festival on Saturday 9 July – so come and say hello to us at Lewisham People’s Day.

The Silvertown Tunnel is as much a threat to Lewisham as it is to Greenwich, Newham or Tower Hamlets – generating more traffic and increasing congestion and pollution on roads such as the South Circular through Catford, the A20 at Lewisham and the A2 through New Cross.

Lewisham Council recognises this and last year, councillors passed a motion opposing the Silvertown Tunnel. They also have serious reservations about the way TfL has gone about proposing it.

We’re grateful for their support, and we’re looking forward to joining all kinds of community groups at Lewisham People’s Day.

There’s live music from Misty in Roots, Trev & Simon and Yasmin Kadi; breathtaking views of London from the Big Wheel; chances to learn aerial skills with Upswing; BMX displays; and more fun for all the family.

Lewisham People’s Day runs from 12 noon to 8pm at Mountsfield Park, Catford SE6 1AN – it’s just off the South Circular, and a short walk from Rushey Green. Nearest stations are Hither Green, Catford and Catford Bridge.

Silvertown Tunnel: what’s happening now?

As you may already know, the planning application for the Silvertown Tunnel was submitted at the beginning of May, and has been given permission to proceed by the Planning Inspectorate, which is dealing with the issue. This doesn’t mean the tunnel has been given the green light – it just means the application’s seen as valid.

At the same time, Mayor Sadiq Khan says he is “reviewing” the project – but he has not said what the review consists of and how it’s being reviewed. So far, he has refused to withdraw the Silvertown Tunnel from the planning process, despite growing concerns about the scheme.

Because of this, we’re expecting the Planning Inspectorate to start accepting public comments on the Silvertown Tunnel proposal in a week or so. We’ll update you again when this happens to let you know what you need to do next to oppose the tunnel.

What else can I do?

Sadiq Khan is asking for views on how to combat air pollution. We think he should expand the planned ultra-low emissions zone to cover the existing London-wide Low Emission Zone (LEZ), rather than just the North and South Circular (questions 4 and 5). You may want to use question 18 to tell him to cancel the Silvertown Tunnel. Fill in the survey here.

Please sign our petition asking Sadiq Khan to suspend the Silvertown Tunnel planning process: www.toxictunnel.co.uk

Sign up for alerts from the Planning Inspectorate on the Silvertown Tunnel: Find out how.

Silvertown Tunnel: Make sure you can have your say at planning (it’ll take you just a few seconds)

Congratulations to London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, on winning May’s election. He’s been busy setting out his agenda, and we’ve been busy watching what he’s doing.

TfL has been busy too. In the dying days of Boris Johnson’s administration, it submitted its planning application for the Silvertown Tunnel.

Considering the terrible impact the tunnel would have on air quality, it was sadly appropriate that it chose 3 May, World Asthma Day, to submit the application.

As part of this process, a whole raft of documents appeared last week, including a report on last autumn’s statutory consultation.

TfL acts on the priorities of the mayor. This process is a legacy of the priorities of the last mayor, who was determined to get this into planning, regardless of the results of any consultation.

It’s something we – and you – need to engage with.

Planning Inspectorate form

So, please do two things. Firstly, visit this website:
http://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/london/silvertown-tunnel/

Secondly, scroll down, and fill in your email address on the right-hand side of the page.

This will put you on the Planning Inspectorate’s mailing list. This means that if there are planning hearings, you’ll be able to register so you can send your views on the tunnel to the inspector.

Quite simply, the more objectors who are lined up to respond, the better. If you’ve done this already – thank you. If you haven’t, please do it now.

Back to the new mayor. We’re looking at his new anti-pollution policies, TfL’s priorities and some of the revelations about the last administration with great interest.

We’ll be looking to Sadiq Khan to carry out his promise to review the current proposals for river crossings, including the Silvertown Tunnel. Visit www.toxictunnel.co.uk to send him a reminder that his review won’t mean a thing if he doesn’t take the tunnel out of planning.

Sign our petition: Take the Silvertown Tunnel out of planning, Sadiq

Sadiq Khan

We’ve launched a new petition to demand new mayor Sadiq Khan withdraws the Silvertown Tunnel from the planning system ahead of his promised review of TfL’s river crossing schemes.

During the election campaign, Mayor Khan pledged to look again at the proposals, acknowledging worries about the air pollution and congestion a new road crossing between the Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula would cause.

“We need a proper joined up review, looking at river crossings and improved public transport connections east of Tower Bridge,” he told website Transport Network in April.

He followed that up by telling Londonist: “My concern is that there’s not a proper plan to have crossings that don’t have an adverse impact on air quality, the environment and the people in the south east of London.

“What you should be thinking about is public transport, cycling.”

Mayor Khan told London Assembly members on Wednesday that he was reviewing the scheme, along with all the crossing proposals put in place under Johnson – but refused to withdraw it from the planning system.

Now the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign is asking him to:

– Show us he is serious about his commitment to tackle pollution by withdrawing the Silvertown Tunnel proposal from the planning system immediately.

– Fully review the Silvertown Tunnel – taking into account all views, instead of relying on Transport for London’s flawed modelling – and other crossing schemes planned east of Tower Bridge.

Pre-construction costs for the tunnel are £107m, according to documents submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. The full cost of building the tunnel will be at least £1 billion.

Our petition can be found at www.toxictunnel.co.uk.

Can we trust the proposal after pollution cover-up?

Since Mayor Khan was elected, it has been revealed his predecessor covered up report that made clear the effects of air pollution in the boroughs that will be affected by the Silvertown Tunnel, such as Newham, Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark.

The planning documents for the tunnel review that the planning costs alone have hit £107m – with the total bill already reaching the £1 billion mark. Cutting costs at TfL was one of Mayor Khan’s election promises.

“We never had much faith in the congestion and pollution assessments for the Silvertown Tunnel, but the shocking revelations about pollution and primary schools mean the new mayor must urgently review City Hall’s roadbuilding plans,” No to Silvertown Tunnel chair Anne Robbins says.

“Nobody is denying Blackwall Tunnel congestion isn’t a problem, but the Silvertown Tunnel will only make the situation worse. Even a tunnel for ‘cleaner vehicles’ would just send more polluting traffic into local areas to head to the Rotherhithe Tunnel. The planning costs alone are £107m – money TfL could put to better use elsewhere.

“Sadiq Khan needs to pull the scheme out of planning, and urgently look again at a scheme that will damage the lives of communities across east and south-east London.”

Sign up NOW to have your say on the tunnel later

For now, the tunnel remains in the planning system, so if you object to the tunnel, please sign up to the Planning Inspectorate website so you can register to have your say.

Planning Inspectorate form

Firstly, visit this website:
http://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/london/silvertown-tunnel/

Secondly, scroll down, and fill in your email address on the right-hand side of the page.

This will make sure you have the opportunity to have your say on the tunnel should it stay in the planning system. But please, make sure you also tell Sadiq Khan to pull the plug on it: www.toxictunnel.co.uk.

Come to our meeting: Community Links, Canning Town; Thursday 9 June, 7pm

Canning Town street sign

Roads in Newham and Tower Hamlets will be flooded with new traffic from the Silvertown Tunnel

We’re holding a public meeting in Canning Town on Thursday 9 June, and we’d love to see you there.

TfL’s Silvertown Tunnel plans will dump new traffic in Silvertown, Canning Town and Poplar, providing a new route for HGVs to cross the river and add to pollution and congestion in communities close to its northern exit.

The £1bn tunnel will also do nothing to ease the southbound queues that back up past schools and homes on the A12 towards Bow. And the queues that build up for events at the ExCel centre will only get worse. The video below shows a queue over the Lower Lea Crossing during last year’s Baby Show.

So we’re holding a new meeting at Community Links, 105 Barking Road E16 4HQ at 7pm on Thursday 9 June. We’ll have speakers from both sides of the Thames who will outline the threat the tunnel poses – and what you can do about it. Want to invite friends? Use our Facebook event page.

Community Links is a short walk from Canning Town Tube and DLR station – if you’re coming from south of the river, it’s just one stop up from North Greenwich on the Jubilee Line, or a few stops from Woolwich Arsenal on the DLR. Buses 5, 69, 115, 276, 300, 330 and 541 stop outside.

There’s also an opportunity to put concerns about the tunnel directly to Sadiq Khan at the State of London debate, at the O2 in Greenwich on Thursday 30 June. Tickets are free for the event, which begins at 7pm.

Canning Town by Nico Hogg published under Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Silvertown Tunnel is no solution for the Blackwall Tunnel’s failures

Delays hit the Blackwall Tunnel

The Blackwall Tunnel closure caused gridlock across south-east London – but a new tunnel at this point is not a serious solution to these problems

It’s the nightmare that haunts hundreds of thousands of drivers. And it happened on Tuesday morning, right as the rush hour began. A mobile crane managed to shed a load of diesel and hydraulic fluid all over the northbound Blackwall Tunnel.

Cue huge jams and a lengthy closure as south-east London’s road network ground to a halt while the difficult task of resurfacing the tunnel began. Three-hour delays for buses were reported at the height of the disruption, while howls of frustration could heard from as far away as the Kent coast.

None of this is good for the lives of people who live near the tunnel. It’s no good for the wider economy, either.

But the proposed Silvertown Tunnel is no solution to Blackwall Tunnel woes – whether huge failures like Tuesday’s, or the minor closures that happen every day.

It fails as a diversionary route – blighting Canning Town and Poplar

As a diversion route, the proposed tunnel is inadequate for the levels of traffic that use Blackwall each day. Normal operation would see it restricted to just one lane for normal traffic, with another set aside for buses and HGVs. At times of disruption, all traffic would be able to use both lanes… only to hit a set of traffic lights at the tunnel’s northern exit.

Many drivers from south London and Kent assume they’ll be able to just fly away from the Silvertown Tunnel once they cross the Thames. That won’t be the case on a good day, and it certainly won’t happen on a bad day. Northbound traffic would emerge at a rebuilt Tidal Basin Roundabout – a junction that’d be controlled by traffic lights.

At Tidal Basin Roundabout, you can head right towards Silvertown and local roads through the Royal Docks; or left to the Lower Lea Crossing and the Docklands. There’d be no direct route for the majority of diverted Blackwall Tunnel traffic to reach the A12 towards Bow – to do that you’d need to proceed through three more congested junctions, all of which are vulnerable to jams on the A13 or on the Limehouse Link/ Aspen Way.

With the Silvertown Tunnel in place, a Blackwall Tunnel closure would be likely to spread traffic jams across both sides of the Thames, grinding Lower Lea Crossing, Leamouth Road and East India Dock Road to a halt.

If you were heading towards Essex, you’d end up on local roads through Silvertown and Beckton which aren’t up to the job of taking all the diverted traffic.

Traffic jams will still blight south-east London – and wreck bus services

Meanwhile, traffic would start queuing back from Tidal Basin Roundabout, through the Silvertown Tunnel, and back down the A102 as before. As usual, buses would take the biggest hit, with route 108 rendered unusable, just as it is now.

And all this is taking TfL’s highly dubious assertions of a minimal traffic increase from the Silvertown Tunnel at face value. New roads have an unfortunate habit of generating new traffic, so the combined Blackwall and Silvertown approach would be significantly busier than it is now.

It’s also worth saying that the location of the Silvertown Tunnel makes it impractical for A12 drivers when the southbound Blackwall Tunnel packs up; you’d either be stuck on the northern approach or crawling through Stratford, West Ham and Canning Town.

River crossings and the roads around them will always be vulnerable to disruption – even the network of bridges in west London suffers badly when one is closed. The Silvertown Tunnel would merely add pressure to existing roads – particularly the A102 – and would be little use when things go wrong with Blackwall.

Cut traffic levels, cut the number of jams

The only way you can guarantee reducing congestion is by reducing the amount of traffic on the roads – and giving Londoners alternative ways to cross the river, such as by public transport, on foot, or by bike. This would free up space for those who need to use the roads.

Now he is mayor, we are calling on Sadiq Khan to commission a thorough review of the Silvertown Tunnel, as he promised, along with the other crossings proposed under his predecessor.

All of us – drivers, residents, and commuters – deserve fresh thinking on this issue, and not the same old “solutions” that are bound to fail, just as the Blackwall Tunnel did on Tuesday.