Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may have noticed there’s a general election on.
We’d like to make clear No to Silvertown Tunnel is not affiliated to any political party. We’re grateful to have had support from across the political spectrum.
Members of various parties have taken time to help our air pollution monitoring, the results of which have been made available for all to use. We’ve submitted evidence to cross-party committees of MPs. And we’ve met politicians – including some standing in this election – to explain why the Silvertown Tunnel is a bad idea.
If you hear any candidate claiming they or their party is linked to us, we’d like to make clear that is simply not true. (We’d also like to to hear about it.)
But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the tunnel an issue in this election. Wherever you live – whether it’s a safe seat or a marginal constituency – the election is a chance to have your say on the tunnel.
Everyone who raises the Silvertown Tunnel on the doorstep, on social media, by email or at a hustings is doing their bit to raise the profile of our campaign. The more it is raised, the more candidates will have to think about the issue – and the more likely they are to raise concerns.
What can you do?
1. Get in touch with your candidates. From Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney to Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and beyond, the Silvertown Tunnel is an issue candidates should be aware of. You can find candidates’ details at Your Next MP.
2. Raise the issue on the doorstep. If you get a knock on the door in the next couple of weeks, don’t hide – raise the tunnel as an issue. Do they support the tunnel? Have they seen our campaign? Do they accept that building new roads creates more traffic? Will they raise this within their parties?
3. Ask a question at hustings. If you can spare the time, hear from your candidates at hustings events across east and south-east London. You can find details of some at Meet Your Next MP, but here are a few we’re aware of. Greenwich & Woolwich:Charlton Society hustings, Saturday 25 April, 2.30pm – Assembly Rooms, The Village SE7 8UD. Greenwich NUT hustings, Tuesday 28 April, 6.30pm – Forum at Greenwich, Trafalgar Road SE10 9EQ. Lewisham Deptford:Sunday 26 April, 7.30pm – St Catherine’s Church, Pepys Road SE14 5SG. Hackney North & Stoke Newington/ Hackney South & Shoreditch:Hackney Citizen hustings, Sunday 26 April, 2pm – Arcola Theatre, Ashwin Street E8 3DL. Bethnal Green & Bow/ Poplar & Limehouse: Tower Hamlets CND/ Friends of the Earth hustings, Wednesday 29 April, 7pm – Oxford House, Derbyshire Street, E2 6HG. Eltham:Eltham Park Baptist Church hustings, Wednesday 29 April, 7.30pm – 32a Westmount Road SE9 1AJ. Lewisham East: Mummy’s Gin Fund hustings, Thursday 30 April, 8pm – Church of The Good Shepherd, Handen Road, SE12 8NR (aimed at local women and male guests – please register here). Erith and Thamesmead:Thamesmead Link hustings, Sunday 3 May, 6pm – Belvedere Road SE2 9BS.
Finally, our friends at I Like Clean Air are holding a kids’ activism day in Shoreditch this Saturday. ITV’s Tonight programme will be filming – so if you’re a family concerned about air pollution, be at Shoreditch High Street station for 2.30pm.
After years of TfL and some local councils using their marketing budgets to push the tunnel – and mixing it up with other crossings – the headline result is what City Hall would have wanted. After all, who doesn’t want to get across the Thames more easily?
Yet this was the first time TfL has actually consulted about this crossing alone, instead of trying to sneak it through along with other new road schemes.
And once you get beyond the simple “yes/no” tick box and actually invite people to think about the effects of a crossing at this location, the fears about this toxic tunnel making congestion and pollution even worse run through this report like a motto in a stick of rock.
How will the existing A102 be able to cope with 20% more traffic – particularly heading southbound? What about its effects on air pollution? Why is TfL prioritising new roads rather than new public transport connections?
It’s not just the public who are worried. The companies and organisations who depend on local traffic to run smoothly are also coming out against the scheme.
The ExCel exhibition centre has voiced its fears about the Silvertown Tunnel – it knows the Lower Lea Crossing can barely cope with traffic as it is, because its customers already get stuck in queues. (See the video above filmed during the Baby Show in February.) Landowner Quintain is also unhappy about TfL’s plans.
South of the river, Southern Gas Networks – whose staff have been on the Greenwich Peninsula longer than anyone else – is against the scheme, arguing it’ll be poor value for money. And Millennium Primary School has rightly pointed out that the tunnel will make traffic worse, not better; and that MPs have recommended new roads should not be built near schools.
The report also reveals deep unhappiness at the level of information TfL provided with the consultation. Is TfL trying to railroad through this dangerous scheme without doing its homework?
And TfL’s strategy of telling people they can have new roads without any adverse consequences finally comes unstuck on the question of tolling – as the report reveals most respondents were opposed to charging for Blackwall and Silvertown Tunnels.
Transport for London’s publicity was designed to secure a simple majority in favour of the tunnel – but when people were invited to think about the consequences, a very different story emerged
These consultation results show how residents and businesses are starting to see through TfL’s slogans and shiny videos. They know building new roads just leads to more traffic – and this is something we can’t afford with local streets already congested.
The Silvertown Tunnel is no solution to the Blackwall Tunnel’s problems – it’ll make other bottlenecks worse and leave London still depending on the 1897 tunnel for the main northbound route.
Instead of digging itself further into a hole, Transport for London should abandon this scheme now.
It needs to make crossing the river easier by cutting traffic on London’s roads, boosting public transport and making walking and cycling easier, instead of making matters worse by flying headlong into poorly-thought out new roads such as the Silvertown Tunnel.
While MPs have acknowledged serious local concerns about the Silvertown Tunnel, we’re disappointed that they seem to have come from a position that all road-building must be good for local communities.
Instead of asking “how do we build these roads”, it should have been asking “why are we building these roads?”
New roads = more traffic, same old jams
There’s an overwhelming body of evidence showing that new road-building leads to increased traffic – a body of evidence that has been ignored by the committee. To imagine you can build a road without generating new road traffic is fantasy – but it’s one that London’s policymakers have happily signed up to.
The Silvertown Tunnel will increase traffic levels in east and south-east London. TfL has admitted to a 20% increase, London’s deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring told the committee that traffic on local roads will double.
Despite this, the committee – whose report was released on the day when London’s mayor issued City Hall’s first air quality warnings – chose to ignore evidence that new roads generate more traffic, even falling for the old line about new roads reducing the number of idling vehicles that produce pollution.
Even one of the Silvertown Tunnel’s local supporters – Newham elected mayor Sir Robin Wales – admits the Silvertown Tunnel will do little to aid economic regeneration. Indeed, the intensive construction projects currently under way in the Royal Docks and on the Greenwich Peninsula suggest that regeneration is proceeding fine without it. Indeed the developments there have followed investment in public transport, such as the Jubilee Line, Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail.
The current plans for London’s river crossings are generated by frustration at not being able to cross the Thames. Yet the Blackwall Tunnel bottleneck is surrounded by other bottlenecks, both north and south of the Thames. Adding the Silvertown Tunnel will simply add pressure, particularly for southbound journeys on the A102, and will still leave the main north-south route relying on a 118-year-old crossing built for horses and carts.
The transport committee says the Silvertown Tunnel “must not be built in isolation”. Yet that is exactly what will happen, with TfL attempting to rush through the scheme at a far greater pace than other projects.
Damage to communities in east and south east London by expecting them to bear the weight of another “strategic crossing” will already have been done before a spade is dug on other projects. Each project must be judged and scrutinised on its merits, but in any case, the transport committee has admitted cost-benefit analysis underestimates the usage of new crossings – so what is its solution when crossings at Blackwall, Silvertown, Gallions Reach and Belvedere are all congested and local roads gridlocked?
Why only road crossings?
It’s also disappointing that the committee has failed to recognise the role of public transport in regenerating communities – ignoring calls for an Overground extension to Abbey Wood – particularly as it admits to having been given no hard evidence that road-building can do just that. It also ignores how promoting walking and cycling can boost local areas.
All this report does is parrot old ideas – the same outdated ideas which, if carried out in the 1970s, would have destroyed areas such as Brockley, Camden Town and Clapham as part of the Ringways scheme.
Ignoring London’s real needs
Different parts of the country will need different solutions to help them revive and regenerate local areas. Yet the MPs’ scrutiny of the London crossing proposals was painfully weak, compounded by their failure to invite any dissenters – such as the vastly experienced former GLC planner John Elliott – to give oral evidence.
The Silvertown Tunnel, along with other proposals out to the M25, must be looked at in the context of the wider London transport network – such as the Bakerloo line extension and Crossrail 2 plans – not just in terms of crossing the river. So it’s baffling to see the committee recommend setting up a joint-purpose company to build London’s river crossings.
This will simply make planning even more remote from local people, and ignores the role of public transport in reviving London’s communities, and presumably it will do little more than provide a highly-paid job for one of the current road-building lobby.
We believe any solution to crossing the Thames should be looked at in the context of cutting congestion levels across east and south-east London as a whole, keeping unnecessary traffic out of the capital and freeing up room for essential journeys. The current proposals simply fall to address this, and the committee failed to scrutinise this vital aspect.
Taxpayers deserve better scrutiny than that offered by a committee which gives the impression that it made its mind up in advance.
We’ve got the map and the equipment – but can you help us with our study?
We’re planning a new air quality study in Tower Hamlets and Newham. If you live in or near Poplar, Silvertown or Canning Town, we’d love you to take part in it.
No to Silvertown Tunnel has teamed up with Mapping For Change to carry out the survey, which will measure air quality in an area stretching from Poplar’s Aberfeldy Estate through to Britannia Village in Silvertown and Canning Town’s Keir Hardie Estate.
Results from the study will be used in the campaign against the Silvertown Tunnel, which is being proposed by TfL with the support of Newham Council and Poplar & Canning Town MP Jim Fitzpatrick.
Rather than diverting traffic away from the congested Blackwall Tunnel, the proposed Silvertown Tunnel is more likely to increase traffic and pollution in communities on both sides of the Thames.
Earlier this month, London’s deputy mayor for transport, Isabel Dedring, admitted to MPs that City Hall’s planned river crossings would lead to a “doubling of traffic” on local roads.
We’re looking for volunteers who can spare a couple of hours next week to help us install tubes that can measure levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air – and who can spare a couple of hours in early March to take them down again.
If you can spare a couple of hours between 2-6 February and 2-6 March, please get in touch via email@example.com. The dates are chosen to match those used by local authorities when they measure air quality.
It’ll be our third air quality survey, and it’s the first time we’ve worked with Mapping For Change, which promotes empowering local communities to become healthier and more sustainable. Alongside our project, Mapping For Change is also working on studies in Hackney and Catford, as well as another survey covering Vauxhall and Streatham.
Our first study, in 2013, investigated areas affected by the proposed tunnel south of the river, while in 2014 we looked at a broader area of south-east and east London. This new study will home in on areas directly affected by both the Silvertown Tunnel and the existing Blackwall Tunnel.
“Local politicians in Newham and Tower Hamlets don’t want to admit the Silvertown Tunnel will be a blight on east London,” No to Silvertown Tunnel campaigner Chris Taylor says.
“The Silvertown Tunnel will make a bad problem even worse by bringing new traffic to the area. We’re gathering more evidence to show them that they need to work to cut traffic levels in Poplar, Canning Town and Silvertown – not increase them. The more help we can get from locals, the better our work will be.”
Opposed to the Silvertown Tunnel? You’re invited to No to Silvertown Tunnel‘s annual general meeting, which will take place at Mycenae House, Blackheath, on Thursday 29 January at 8pm.
We’re delighted to confirm that transport journalist Christian Wolmar has kindly agreed to be our special guest speaker at the meeting.
Christian is one of the UK’s foremost experts on transport and transport policy; needless to say, he’s implacably opposed to the Silvertown Tunnel. He’s also seeking the Labour Party’s nomination to be its candidate for Mayor of London.
Last year’s consultation may be over, but it’s a busy time for our campaign. We’re finalising plans to carry out an air quality study north of the river, as well as supporting community groups with studies south of the river.
There’s a licensed bar at Mycenae House, which will also be open after the meeting. It’s 10 minutes’ walk from Westcombe Park station (trains from Cannon Street, London Bridge, Greenwich and Woolwich Arsenal) and close to bus routes 53, 54, 108, 202, 380 and 386.
So please come along – it’ll be great to see you! As always, if you have any questions, please drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The proposed boundaries would be the same as the current central London congestion charge zone. With frequent exposure to high levels of airborne pollutants in this area, such a measure would be welcome. But we feel both the scope and the range of the zone are uninspiring and represent a missed opportunity.
We’d encourage everyone with an interest in air quality across London to respond to the consultation.
You can find our reply to the consultation below. You may like to consider or adapt it while composing your own response. We haven’t included questions that require personal information.
13. In your opinion, how important is it to tackle poor air quality in central London?
(Very important down to very unimportant) – “Very important”
14. Do you support an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London to encourage the use of low emission vehicles to improve air quality?
(Strongly support to strongly oppose) – “Strongly support”
15. It is proposed that private and commercial vehicles that do not meet the ULEZ standards must pay a daily charge to drive within the ULEZ from 2020. Do you support this?
(Range of vehicles & options strongly support to strongly oppose) – Chose “Strongly support” for all
16. Do you think the proposed boundary of the ULEZ shown on the map is the appropriate area for charging vehicles which do not meet the ULEZ standards?
(Yes, Should be smaller, Should be larger, No) – “Should be larger”
17.Do you support the proposal that the ULEZ standards would be enforced 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?
(Strongly support to strongly oppose) – Chose “Strongly support”
18. Do you think the proposed charge (£100 for heavy vehicles and £12.50 for cars, vans and powered two wheelers) is appropriate?
(Yes, No too low, No too high, Don’t know) – Chose “No, too low”
19. It is proposed that residents in the ULEZ would not need to meet the ULEZ standards until 2023 (and therefore not pay a daily charge until then). Do you support this?
(Strongly support to strongly oppose) – “Neither support nor oppose”
20. Do you support the proposal for TfL to operate only hybrid double deck and zero emission single deck buses on bus routes operating through the ULEZ?
(Strongly support to strongly oppose) – “Strongly support”
21-23. Do you support the proposals to reduce emissions from taxis and private hire vehicles by: a) Introducing a requirement in 2018 that newly licensed vehicles would be zero emission capable for:
(Strongly support to strongly oppose) – “Strongly support” b) Reducing the Londonwide age limit for non zero emission capable taxis to 10 years and exempting all licensed taxis from the ULEZ standards (and therefore daily charge)
(Strongly support to strongly oppose) – “Strongly support” c) Requiring PHVs to meet the ULEZ standards for private cars in order to drive in the ULEZ without paying a daily charge (similar to other cars and vans)
(Strongly support to strongly oppose) – “Strongly support”
24. Do you think the proposed date of 2018 for requiring new taxis and PHVs to be zero emission capable is:
(About right, could be achieved earlier, should be achieved later, no opinion) – “Could be achieved earlier”
25. Please write in the box below if you wish to make any other comments about any aspect of the ULEZ proposal including any potential exemptions or expand on any of your responses above.
The ULEZ represents a missed opportunity. It is restricted to the existing Congestion Charge zone which only covers a few of the areas in London which suffer from poor air quality. While the area of the proposed ULEZ features some areas where pollution is particularly high, the choice of area gives the impression that it was picked for the ease of implementation and monitoring – as infrastructure is already in place and it is an area of the road network that due to its size TfL can really control – rather than for its impact on pollution.
Poor air quality is very much localised, and your crude measure – “the percentage of population living in areas of NOx exceedance” – does not reflect the real health issue facing London.
While we would not wish anyone to have to suffer poor air quality, it is notable that these measures are focussed on an area with just 200,000 residents. It appears one motivation behind the ULEZ is to protect the image of London rather than actually protecting all of the residents of Greater London: “this [the ULEZ area] is where most people visiting and living in London are exposed to pollution on a daily basis.”
It is also not clear whether the current ULEZ proposal would a) solve the air pollution issue, b) get London to just within legal limits, or worse, c) do nothing.
a) the ULEZ should be extended to cover at least all inner London boroughs (to the east, at least as far as Greenwich and Newham) but should probably expand further to cover the whole area inside the M25.
b) In addition to the ULEZ, the mayor should be stopping road building schemes such as the Silvertown Tunnel, a project that will further increase congestion and air pollution. This should be in conjunction with an expanded ULEZ.
We would also question whether the ULEZ is actually that much of a game-changer. The standards would already be quite old: “If approved by the Mayor, the ULEZ standards would be introduced from 7 September 2020 and by this time it is expected many vehicles will already be compliant” and “the oldest Euro VI HGV will be six years old, whilst the oldest Euro diesel 6 car will be five years old”.
Therefore much of the change you hope for would be down to the natural process of changing vehicles and updating fleets. If the ULEZ is being introduced to reinforce good air quality, it should be designed to be more aggressive than simply reflecting updated standards. It’s also not good enough that some of the vehicles that will remain non-compliant would be in TfL’s own fleet, unless retrofit measures are introduced.
In addition, the ULEZ does not address what we see as the core issue – the sheer weight of traffic in Greater London. More needs to be done to tackle this.
26. As vehicle technology advances, TfL may consider strengthening the ULEZ standards at a later date to set a zero emission requirement. Do you support this in principle?
(Strongly support to strongly oppose) – “Strongly support”
27. Would you support a future expansion of the area of the ULEZ to spread the benefits of improved air quality to other parts of London?
(Strongly support to strongly oppose) – “Strongly support”
St Mary Magdalene school is taking shape behind these hoardings on John Harrison Way, in Greenwich Millennium Village
Greenwich Council should reject plans to build a new road tunnel from the Royal Docks to Greenwich Peninsula to protect children attending a new school it is building close to one of London’s most congested roads, campaigners said today.
Despite Greenwich Council building a new school on the Greenwich Peninsula – St Mary Magdalene, due to fully open in 2015 – Transport for London plans to build the Silvertown Tunnel, feeding extra traffic into the A102, which passes the school site.
The Silvertown Tunnel will generate new traffic on the existing Blackwall Tunnel approaches, failing to clear northbound congestion, exacerbating southbound queues, and putting the wider road network under heavier strain.
Other schools close to roads affected by the Silvertown Tunnel scheme include Halstow Primary in Greenwich and Invicta Primary in Blackheath.
Nitrogen dioxide levels at Greenwich Millennium Village, recorded in January 2014. The St Mary Magdalene school will open on the site marked “coach park”, between Millennium Way and John Harrison Way. Figures over 40 microgrammes per cubic metre break European legal limits.
“The Environmental Audit Committee report underlines that it is insanity to build new roads through urban areas such as ours,” No to Silvertown Tunnel campaigner Jill Austen said.
“This report should be a wake-up call for policymakers and councillors across London and the rest of the UK – they can’t keep on demanding new roads when the effects of those roads damage children’s health.
“The only way you will deal with congestion is by taking traffic off the roads. Expanding capacity has been proved time and time again to be counterproductive.”
On the specific proposals in Greenwich, Jill added:
“Greenwich Council is right to be opening a much-needed new school on the peninsula. But if it’s to follow this policy through properly, it has to oppose a road project that will put the health of children across the borough at risk.
“Councillors can’t cross their fingers and hope there’ll be a magic road tunnel that won’t cause extra traffic or pollution – because that simply won’t happen.
“They need to face up to their responsibilities to children at St Mary Magdalene, Millennium Primary and other schools across the borough and oppose this dangerous scheme. Future generations deserve better than to have their health blighted by this toxic tunnel.”
Transport for London’s latest Silvertown Tunnel consultation closes on 19 December. To respond, please visit www.tfl.gov.uk/silvertown-tunnel. Please also tell your local councillors, MP and London Assembly members what you think – get their details at www.writetothem.com.
Transport for London’s consultation into the Silvertown Tunnel is ongoing. You can find out more about why the tunnel’s such a bad idea on the rest of our webpages. We’ve already submitted our response – and you should submit yours too at www.tfl.gov.uk/silvertown-tunnel.
If you’re looking for some ideas, here are our suggested responses. Everyone will have a slightly different views, so feel free to add your own comments, or amend ours as you see fit.
Wherever you live, please also tell your local councillors, London Assembly members and MP you object to the Silvertown Tunnel. Find them at www.writetothem.com.
6. What do you think about the consultation itself? (leaflets, websites, publicity, etc)
More assessment of traffic flows and environmental and economic impact is required. Much of the evidence I need to reach a final decision on the merits of the Silvertown Tunnel is not available at this stage.
The timing of this consultation, and that of the previous consultation into a replacement for the Woolwich Ferry, has been confusing. The Woolwich Ferry consultation assumed that Silvertown would be built, and this consultation assumes there will be some replacement of the current ferry that allows for 30% more volume of traffic. This makes it impossible to deal with each case on its merits, and to have confidence in what the aim of this consultation is.
Publicity for this consultation has been inconsistent and has missed key affected areas. Drop-in consultation clinics are not advertised or signposted in the local area.
Misleading information was released in conjunction with the launch of this consultation. TfL claimed 98% of those surveyed in the Woolwich Ferry consultation were in favour of ‘new river crossings’, when this figure included those who merely wanted to see the Woolwich Ferry continue with new vessels.
7. We consider that a new crossing is needed to improve the resilience of the road network in east London, relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel and beyond and to support growth in London’s population. Do you agree that a new crossing is needed and could successfully address these issues?
In the last decade, London’s population has grown while car use has dropped.
Resilience will not be improved by adding additional traffic to the pinch points north and south of the tunnel.
As TfL’s modelling is not open to scrutiny, we are asked to take assurances that there will be less congestion on trust. I demand greater openness on how TfL models traffic – after all, it us who face living with greater congestion and pollution if you get it wrong.
8. Would you support a user charge that was similar to Dartford charges levels, and during peak periods slightly higher, to help pay for the new crossing and resulting in more reliable journey times and less overall delays?
TfL has no evidence that tolling set at Dartford levels would adequately manage demand for the crossing.
Greenwich, Deptford, Poplar and Limehouse will be burdened with extra traffic from drivers diverting to the free Rotherhithe Tunnel.
If the toll is more expensive at peak times, traffic will mill around areas close to the tunnel until the price for crossing has fallen: this effect can already be seen with the congestion charging zone.
Charging tolls for a tunnel (as opposed to a London-wide charging system, for example), will act as a disincentive for businesses to move to areas close to it.
9. Would you sign-up to an account system, with the benefits of auto-pay and a charge that would be lower than what non-account holders would pay?
10. The Silvertown Tunnel would create an opportunity for new cross-river bus connections. What sort of new bus connections do you think are important?
Additional bus routes could cross the Blackwall Tunnel now without the need to build a new tunnel. Commercial operators already use the tunnel for coach services to and from Kent.
11. We will link the new tunnel to the existing road network with new junctions in the Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula areas. Do you agree that the new junction in the Royal Docks area on the north side provides the right connections?
12. We will link the new tunnel to the existing road network with new junctions in the Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula areas. Do you agree that the new junction at the Greenwich Peninsula on the south side provides the right connections?
13. Please use the space below to let us know any additional comments you may have on our proposals for new junctions to link the tunnel to the existing road network:
I am particularly concerned about the impact of increased traffic volume on junctions on the A102 and A2, and on the Lower Lea Crossing, which already struggles to cope with traffic to events at Excel.
14. What are the key issues TfL should address as we continue to develop our proposals for the Silvertown Tunnel? Please feel free to select as many issues as you wish.
[We suggest ticking all available options] 15. We have published a large number of technical reports. These deal with a number of disciplines, including traffic, the environment, optioneering and engineering, amongst others. If you have any comments on our methodology or approach to any of these disciplines, please let us know in the space below.
TfL needs to make these documents more accessible to the interested lay reader. Guidance upon best order to read and a summary of key assumptions and the contents of each document would be helpful.
Please use the space below to let us know any other thoughts you may have.
I strongly feel East and South East London should be better connected. But spending £753 million on this solution that provides only for road transport is a backwards step: this money could be invested in public transport to give us choice and relieve pressure on the roads, meaning less congestion and delays for those that really must drive.
Further information on question 14:
Proposals for a new user charge: I expect to see a full analysis of the impact of user charging on demand for the Silvertown Tunnel.
Construction impacts: What disruption to the road network will building the Silvertown Tunnel cause? What impact will it have on the environment?
Environment impacts: There should be a full investigation into both air and noise pollution impacts, and proof that TfL has been working with local boroughs on these issues.
Traffic impacts of the Silvertown Tunnel and design of new junctions: TfL needs to open its traffic modelling and explain the assumptions used.
Economic benefits of the Silvertown Tunnel: Full economic cases, both for and against the tunnel, should be provided.
The Britannia Village development will be directly affected if the Silvertown Tunnel is built, adding traffic to the adjacent A1020 road
Transport for London’s proposed Silvertown Tunnel will hurt communities on the north side of the river Thames – despite what some politicians in the area would have you believe.
It’ll bring more traffic to Silvertown and the Royal Docks, while it’ll encourage Kent commuters to drive to Canary Wharf and the City, adding to congestion through Limehouse and Wapping.
On top of this, it won’t do a thing to solve the poisonous traffic jams on the Blackwall Tunnel northern approach through Bow and Poplar, spewing out pollution past homes and schools.
It’s not just the boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets that are threatened by the Silvertown Tunnel; Hackney Council has voiced its concerns about the effects the tunnel would have on its own residents.
Can you help us fight this toxic tunnel? We held an open meeting south of the river last month, now it’s the turn of the north side of the Thames.
We’ll be at Britannia Village Hall, 65 Evelyn Road, London E16 1TU, from 8pm on Tuesday 18 November. It’s a short walk from West Silvertown DLR station and the 474 bus. The Britannia Village development in Silvertown will be one of the areas most affected by the new tunnel, with traffic planned to pour out onto the A1020 which runs past it.
We’ll explain what we’ve done so far, what we’ll be doing in the future, and how you can help us. So we know how many people are coming along, it’d be great if you could register through this link.
Whether you’re from Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, or from south of the Thames, it’d be great to see you. Got any questions? Drop us a line on email@example.com.
A typical evening rush hour on the southbound A102 – a jam the Silvertown Tunnel will only exacerbate
Transport for London is launching a new consultation into its Silvertown Tunnel proposals this week, and has released images of what the scheme, which it’s already spent £2.5 million on, could look like if built.
Strangely enough, they don’t show the southbound traffic jam that traffic exiting the tunnel would hit on the A102 – so we’ve included a picture above, which also shows the smog that blights air quality around the tunnel approaches.
In Greenwich, a new flyover would be constructed just north of the remaining gas-holder, to allow traffic leaving the Blackwall Tunnel to cross that heading into the Silvertown Tunnel, which would run roughly under the line of the Thames Cable Car.
The northbound image is slightly harder to fathom out, but at the Silvertown end, the tunnel would emerge at the Lower Lea Crossing roundabout, allowing easy access for Kent car commuters to access Canary Wharf as well as to the Royal Docks.
Here’s TfL’s video, showing a seamless journey through a computer-generated tunnel.
But this is the current reality, with events at ExCeL already clogging up the Lower Lea Crossing and bringing this part of east London to a standstill. This video was shot by a Royal Docks resident in February during the Cycle Show. Remember, this is traffic that’s already there, and it isn’t looking to cross the river. The Silvertown Tunnel would make this congestion far, far worse.
Transport for London claims there’s overwhelming public backing for the tunnel – but this has to be taken with a big pinch of salt. Nobody’s been given the full facts about the Silvertown Tunnel. And we’re finding many people simply aren’t aware, or believe the plans have been superseded by proposals for other crossings further down the river.
Current Greenwich Council leader Denise Hyland supporting the Silvertown Tunnel in January 2013. We hope Greenwich will change its mind and back residents rather than big businesses
Indeed, in December 2012, Greenwich Council and Newham Council encouraged residents to support Silvertown with a misleading “Bridge The Gap” campaign – with Greenwich’s weekly newspaper, delivered to every home in the borough, carrying eight consecutive issues of pro-tunnel propaganda, tapping into the frustrations of those who get stuck in morning queues on the A102. (Greenwich later shelved a report from Hyder Consulting that pointed out the Silvertown Tunnel would quickly overwhelm local traffic.)
There’s no data to back up TfL’s claims that it’ll be some kind of economic shot in the arm. And promised traffic and environmental studies haven’t been done.
What we do know is that building new roads merely increases traffic – this 1994 Government report, Trunk Roads and the Generation of Traffic, is the most authoritative study into the matter. So the Silvertown Tunnel threatens to reverse the long-term decline in car use in the area.
And it’s increased public transport provision – the Jubilee Line, East London Line, Docklands Light Railway and Crossrail – that’s driven growth in east and south-east London. The Greenwich Peninsula would still be a wasteland if a third Blackwall Tunnel had been built, and the Jubilee Line had skipped it, as was seriously considered in the 1990s.
Nobody likes wasting time sitting in traffic jams. If we give people alternative ways to cross the river, people will use them.
Throwing £753m (and rising) at building a road tunnel that’ll only fill up within a couple of years is a shocking waste of money when schemes like the Barking-Thamesmead Overground link and the Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham and Catford need funding. To put it in perspective, scrapping the Silvertown Tunnel would pay for Woolwich Arsenal station to be moved into zone 3 – making cross-river transport easier and cheaper for millions – for up to 750 years.
We talked to residents at the Newham Waterfront Festival in September – and found many simply weren’t aware of the tunnel proposals
It’s time to step up the fight against this toxic tunnel. Our politicians need to realise that the Silvertown Tunnel will be lethal for communities on both sides of the Thames. Our committee’s already working hard against the tunnel, but the more you can do to help us, the more of a chance we have of seeing this off.
“Once again, Transport for London’s pushing its toxic tunnel with no evidence to back up its wild claims that it’ll reduce traffic congestion or boost our economy. TfL and the mayor think this is a done deal – we’ll fight this mad plan all the way.
“The surrounding traffic network in Greenwich, Newham, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets can’t cope with a doubling in capacity – the Lower Lea Crossing won’t be able to cope, the A206 won’t be able to cope, and nor will the A2 a couple of miles south of the tunnel. Southbound queues on the A102 are horrendous in rush hour – why add to them?
“There’s already a body of evidence about road-building that points to the Silvertown Tunnel causing worse queues, worse congestion, and making life miserable for residents on both sides of the Thames. Air pollution is killing people in communities north and south of the river – yet our politicians seem content to make it worse.
“This is the traffic equivalent of moving the deckchairs on the Titanic. Transport for London is deluded if it thinks the Silvertown Tunnel will cure congestion. There’s nothing in this for locals – it’ll just encourage Kent car commuters to drive to Canary Wharf.
“This £753m waste of money needs to be binned – and the money put towards proper crossings for public transport, walking and cycling instead.”
Nikki Coates and Clare Griffiths show off children’s drawings of pollution at Royal Victoria Dock
We spent Saturday by the Royal Victoria Dock, taking our stall out for the fourth time this year at the Newham Waterfront Festival.
Technically speaking, we weren’t part of the festival and Newham Council weren’t happy about us being there. But we were invited by residents of the Britannia Village housing development, which is just a few hundred yards from the proposed Silvertown Tunnel’s northern entrance.
The festival uses land owned by the development, so Britannia Village’s management gave us a prime spot to catch people as they walked in and out of the event. We’re really grateful to Britannia Village for being our hosts for the day. And in the end, Newham’s security guards came and picked up badges and leaflets too.
We’re also really grateful to Lewisham Council for hosting us at Lewisham People’s Day, Greenwich Council for the Charlton Horn Fayre, and the Plumstead Make Merry team for having us at their event back in May.
Thanks to Britannia Village residents, we secured a prime spot alongside the Newham Waterfront Festival
It’s easy to sit in meeting rooms, or on the internet, and decide you know exactly how you need to fight a campaign. But actually, there’s nothing like getting out and talking to people. Here’s what we’ve picked up in between blowing up balloons, pointing at maps and handing out leaflets:
Many people still have no idea what the Silvertown Tunnel is. Despite two public consultations, and a PR campaign led by Greenwich and Newham councils to back it, many simply aren’t aware of the proposals. Even in Silvertown itself, it was instructive to watch people’s faces when they were told a four lane road tunnel would soon be emerging yards from their homes. Perhaps it’s because fewer people see local media these days, and there’s been a lack of coverage in the London media. But there’s still a lot of work to do to get the message out there. Have you told your neighbours about the Silvertown Tunnel?
People are worried about the Silvertown Tunnel. No amount of spin or bluster from Mayor Johnson on LBC phone-ins can disguise this. People are rightly concerned and angry about what’s being proposed. Of the hundreds of people we’ve spoken to, very few gave us a hard time. They know air pollution is a major issue in London, and the existence of plans like the Silvertown Tunnel show that too many of our politicians simply aren’t interested in doing anything about it.
Chris Taylor and Jill Austen talk to visitors at Royal Victoria Dock
Some people wrongly think it’s been scrapped. To an extent, coverage of the Silvertown Tunnel has been overshadowed by the furore over the Gallions Reach bridge proposals. Looking back at some of the media coverage of the last consultation, you’d easily think the Silvertown Tunnel had fallen off the agenda. It hasn’t – and it needs fighting.
“So, what would you like to see done instead?” Ah, yes. If you’re opposing something, surely you must have an alternative plan, right? Well, we’re not transport planners or engineers, but we’re worried that £750m spent on a hole in the ground that’ll just fill up with even more traffic, and make the air even worse, isn’t the wisest use of public funds. We simply think that public transport, pedestrian and cycling links across the Thames should be massively improved before any new road links are considered. That’s why we’ve begun a petition to get a London Overground extension to Abbey Wood onto the agenda – because that’s one of the schemes that will be needed if people are to have a real choice in how they get across the river.
Tunnel supporters get stuck in the most jams. Of the people we’ve spoken to who support the tunnel, most are professional drivers or are regular Blackwall Tunnel users. Which is fair enough – if something’s been the bane of your life for years, then you’d want to reach for the first “solution” in sight. But they become less keen when they’re told of current plans to toll Blackwall Tunnel as well as the Silvertown Tunnel – and most people accept the fact that building more roads simply generates more traffic. While these people may want to see a road crossing elsewhere, most do accept the the £750m Silvertown Tunnel is a poor idea for drivers too.
South of the river: We also spoke to locals at Charlton’s Horn Fayre
“But if you build more roads and traffic starts moving, pollution levels will drop.” An old chestnut that’s continually pushed by the politicians who are trying to force the tunnel onto east and south-east London. Studies show that if you increase capacity on the roads, it will be filled by more traffic – and Mayor Johnson has admitted this will be the case with Silvertown. Just think of all the things you could spend £750m on – you wouldn’t want to spend it on a new traffic jam under the Thames.
Most importantly, though, we’ve found the public are ahead of the politicians on this. People know the damage caused by pollution and congestion because they suffer it themselves. And when they’re given the real story about the Silvertown Tunnel – and told how and why it’ll only exacerbate congestion, they’re against it.
When Greenwich’s Labour councillors were told to support Silvertown back in 2012, they were told that “environmental groups are rehearsing previous arguments”. We can’t speak for the environmental groups, but the only people we’ve seen rehearsing previous arguments are the politicians.
So we’ve come away from the summer energised and ready to face down these arguments. But as a committee we can only do so much.
If you can help us with air or noise pollution studies, or can donate money to help fund our work, we’d love to hear from you – contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transport for London is currently consulting on options for new road-based river crossings at Gallions Reach and Belvedere. This particular consultation does not include the Silvertown Tunnel; that will be subject to a separate consultation, currently expected to start later in September.
As you’d expect, the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign is focusing on the proposal for a road tunnel between Greenwich and the Royal Docks. But as the issues are inextricably linked, we’re keeping a close eye on all developments, including these. If you’re concerned about the Silvertown Tunnel, we suggest you take an interest in this too and familiarise yourself with both sides of the argument.
We’ll be responding to this consultation, and we’ll be publishing our draft response. If you’re responding too, we’ve put together this guide to the consultation, with suggestions for answers to particular questions. The deadline’s 18 September (it’s been extended from its original closing date because of technical problems with TfL’s website).
Please note that this is only a guide based on our own reading of the proposals. We will, of course, be publishing guidance on how to respond to the Silvertown Tunnel consultation once it is launched.
The online consultation has 15 questions. Questions 1-8 asks for views on the 4 options that TfL has proposed:
1-2: a new ferry at Woolwich by the early 2020s,
3-4: a new ferry service at Gallions Reach by the early 2020s,
5-6: a bridge at Gallions Reach by 2022-2025,
7-8: a bridge at Belvedere by 2025-2030.
Each of the options has a space where respondents can write in comments.
Question 9 asks respondents to select the option(s) they think TfL should progress. Including an option that says “I do not agree that there is a need for more river crossings”
Question 10 gives space for further comments
Question 11 asks for name, question 12 email address, question 13 home postcode, and question 14 if responding on behalf of an organisation its name.
Question 15 asks how respondents heard about the consultation.
Option 1 – Select support or strongly support. We believe a free ferry, open to pedestrians and cyclists as well as motor traffic, is an essential part of Woolwich’s character – and the current proposals threaten its future.
Option 2 – Select oppose. Under current plans, a ferry at Gallions Reach would mean the loss of the Woolwich Ferry. It could also be precursor to a road bridge between Beckton and Thamesmead.
Option 3 – In light of the questions in the consultation and the options provided, the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign has decided its position for the consultation should be to oppose the building of a bridge at Gallions Reach.
We appreciate that not everyone who opposes the construction of the Silvertown Tunnel would also necessarily oppose the construction of other river crossings in the area, so we strongly recommend that you read the documents and make up your own mind. Our opposition to the bridge at Gallions Reach is based on the fact that the principles of extra traffic brought about by road building apply equally to this proposal as they do to the Silvertown Tunnel. Building a bridge at Gallions will also increase pressure for a road linking it to the A2, putting homes in Plumstead and ancient Oxleas Woods under threat.
Option 4 – Again, based on the information given in the consultation documents, we have decided to oppose the proposal for a bridge between Belvedere and Rainham. In our opinion, the same issues of traffic growth apply here as with Gallions – and have been proved by a recent study into the widening of the A206 in Crayford, that showed both increased traffic and pollution once the road was widened. This is the road that would carry traffic to any new bridge. Once again, we recommend you review the information and assess the pros and cons yourself.
QUESTION 9 – Select the box for the ferry at Woolwich. We believe action should be taken to reduce traffic coming into London, and public transport connections improved, before any new road-based crossings are considered.
QUESTION 10 – Please use this space to express your opposition to the Silvertown Tunnel. In particular, please express your objection to the proposals’ assumption that the Silvertown Tunnel will already have been built – meaning that these proposals are, in part, an ill-conceived attempt to repair the damage that the Silvertown Tunnel will cause.
Stumped for words? Try these:
“I object to this consultation on the basis that it mistakenly assumes that the Silvertown Tunnel will be built. The Silvertown Tunnel has not been fully consulted on, and it is not clear that it will ever be built. Transport for London has not made an economic case for the Silvertown Tunnel and has not justified its case that a tunnel would alleviate the congestion and air pollution on the approaches to the Blackwall Tunnel. It is wrong to base this consultation and the underlying traffic projections on an insecure assumption and it is therefore entirely flawed.
“Indeed, all studies of road-building done over many years show that building roads brings new traffic, so these proposals would increase congestion and consequently pollution.
“I also object to the proposals, which appear to be an ill-conceived attempt to relieve the congestion that is being caused by lack of public transport and provisions for pedestrians and cyclists.
“It should be a much higher priority to get polluting traffic off the road altogether, by improving public transport and pedestrian and cycle connections in east and south-east London, and to make existing crossings more efficient by dropping the tolling at the Dartford Crossing and improving traffic flow at the Blackwall Tunnel.”
Questions 11-15 complete as appropriate.
While this consultation does not directly involve the Silvertown Tunnel, the more people take the opportunity to object to the proposals, the better. We’d also ask that you copy your responses to your local councillors, MP and London Assembly members to remind them of the huge opposition to the Silvertown Tunnel.
Southbound queues on the A102 will be even more common if the Silvertown Tunnel is built
We’re holding a public meeting on 20 October to update supporters on our progress and to hear your opinions on the Silvertown Tunnel and related issues.
It’s possible TfL will have launched a new consultation into its proposals by them, so we’re keeping the format flexible. But whatever happens, please clear a space in your diary and come along to say hello on 20 October – it’ll be good to see you.
It’ll be held at Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Road, SE3 7SE on Monday 20 October at 8pm.
The Isle of Dogs from Shooters Hill, taken at 1pm on Wednesday 2 April
Politicians in Greenwich and Newham need to “get the sand out of their eyes”, and accept that building new roads will only make air pollution worse, says the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign.
Dust from a sandstorm in the Sahara has all too visibly contributed this week to air pollution in London and elsewhere, but by far the biggest airborne hazard to our and our children’s health is invisible. This pollution is man-made, and comes in the form of vehicle exhaust emissions.
Children, walkers, joggers and cyclists eager to enjoy the welcome spring warmth and sunshine have been advised to stay indoors, but no politician has so far had the courage to warn people against driving in London during the latest pollution incident. Contrast this with Paris, which imposes temporary driving restrictions to protect the population.
London mayor Boris Johnson, supported by borough councils in Greenwich, Newham and Bexley, is enthusiastically backing plans for a Silvertown road tunnel linking Greenwich and the Royal Docks. Unashamedly dubbed by Johnson “Blackwall 2”, the proposed Silvertown Tunnel will bring more yet traffic to the already highly congested Blackwall Tunnel approaches and Lower Lea Crossing.
It will blight local communities, worsening the quality of life in areas such as Greenwich, Eltham, Charlton, Blackheath, Kidbrooke, Canning Town, Poplar and beyond.
Smog and southbound traffic which can only get heavier if the Silvertown Tunnel is built: Charlton Road, 5pm on 2 April
A wealth of traffic engineering studies show that roadbuilding tends to increase traffic levels and congestion rather than smooth existing traffic flow. Increased air pollution then follows, and as a result we all suffer, with our children experiencing the worst of it. Their bodies are still forming, and are thus especially susceptible to long-term damage from the environmental toxins in motor vehicle exhausts.
Other London boroughs, including Lewisham and Tower Hamlets, have expressed grave concerns about the effect of a Silvertown Tunnel. However, Greenwich and Newham councils are strongly in favour of a new road tunnel.
The No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign says locals should be quizzing candidates in next month’s council election about whether they back a road-building project which will blight their neighbourhoods.
No to Silvertown Tunnel spokesman Darryl Chamberlain says: “The Saharan dust cloud is natural, but the pollution caused by traffic is man-made.
“Joggers have been told not to take their exercise, but nobody is addressing the root cause of air pollution. That is motor traffic.
“Instead, we have local politicians who want to make matters worse by building a Silvertown road tunnel, even though there is not a shred of evidence that it will bring real economic benefits. A Silvertown Tunnel will only add to traffic congestion which is already unbearable.
“Politicians need to get the sand out of their eyes. A Silvertown tunnel is no solution to our pollution.”
One of London’s great views blighted by smog. Greenwich Park, 8pm on 2 April
Over the last few months we’ve been working away on our campaign:
January saw us carry out an even bigger citizen science project: our volunteers placed pollution monitoring equipment in 100 locations across south east and east London. We joined forces with Don’t Dump On Deptford’s Heart, who conducted their own tests at the same time at another 50 locations, supported by Network for Clean Air. The project will give us a much better picture of the current levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution in our neighbourhoods – particularly as our last experiment was carried out in the summer, and past experience shows that pollution is generally higher in the winter. We’re waiting for the results now, and we’ll let you know what we find out.
We arranged for Dr Ian Mudway of King’s College London – you may remember hearing him speak at our public meeting last October – to extend his survey of the respiratory health of primary school children to Fossdene School, Charlton. This is important work that will show how children are affected by London’s air quality, and no data had been collected from south east London before now.
We also formally constituted our group and elected our committee and officers. Our constitution’s available to anyone that would like to see it – let us know and we’ll send it on if you’re interested.
Air quality in our local area has been in the news quite a bit recently. You might have seen some of the coverage:
Transport for London are currently carrying out a survey on air quality: it closes on 13 April. Please do respond and tell them that you don’t want a Silvertown tunnel adding to air pollution in our area!
Is there something else you’d like to know or would you like to be involved in any future volunteer projects that we run? You can drop us a line at email@example.com, or if you’re the Twitter type, you can find us at @NoSilvertownTnl
We will soon be up and running with a Bank account. If you think you would like to contribute to the funding of our campaign, please also get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.