Tag Archives: silvertown tunnel

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.

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:

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:

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.

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.

Send them a postcard – tell Zac and Sadiq to scrap the toxic tunnel

our postcard to Zac and Sadiq

It’s time to tell mayoral candidates what you think of the Silvertown Tunnel scheme and our high levels of air pollution – and we can help.

The No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign has produced postcards that you can send to Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan, and others, to make them think about what Transport for London’s plans will do to our health and well-being.

We’ll be distributing them in the coming days for you and your friends and neighbours to sign and post.

You can pick some up from us at café drop-in sessions, on April 4 and 13, or email us at info@silvertowntunnel.com.

If you’re local to Charlton, Blackheath, Greenwich or Eltham, we’re happy to deliver by hand – if not, we can post some to you.

The more cards the candidates receive, the more they’ll take note of the serious effects the Silvertown Tunnel’s increased road traffic levels will cause. (You could also use them to thank Sian Berry and Caroline Pidgeon for their continued support of our campaign to scrap the scheme.)

On Monday 4th April you’ll find us at the café at the Forum at Greenwich, Trafalgar Road, SE10 9EQ from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Then from 3:00 to 4:00 pm we’ll be at the lovely Pistachio’s Café in East Greenwich Pleasaunce, Chevening Road, SE10 0LA.

On Wednesday 13th April, we’ll be at the Old Cottage Café, Charlton Park, SE7 8UB from 1:30 to 2:30 pm, and then at Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Road, SE3 7SE from 3:00 to 4:00 pm.

Please join us to hear what the two candidates are saying (hint: not a lot), pick up postcards for yourself and friends and neighbours, and find out what you can do in the next stages of the planning application.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After Boris – tell the next mayor to cancel the tunnel

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

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

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

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

More new roads – take part in the other crossing consultations

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

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

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

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

And finally…

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

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

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

Tell London’s mayoral candidates – scrap the Silvertown Tunnel

London's mayoral candidates include Sian Berry (Green), Zac Goldsmith (Conservative), Sadiq Khan (Labour) and Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat)

London’s mayoral candidates include Sian Berry (Green), Zac Goldsmith (Conservative), Sadiq Khan (Labour) and Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat)

The final public consultation into Transport for London’s Silvertown Tunnel proposals is over. But it’s not too late to do your bit to stop the £1bn toxic tunnel – because London’s next mayor can axe the project in 2016.

We were delighted with the response to our campaign against a new road which is likely to increase congestion and pollution in neighbourhoods on both sides of the river. We’re grateful to everybody who took the opportunity to speak out – and to those who told us how useful they found our suggested response.

And we’d especially like to thank our brilliant volunteers who helped us deliver 10,000 leaflets to homes on both sides of the river – many to people who’d never heard about TfL’s scheme before.

More than 100 people came to our public meeting at the Forum in Greenwich last month. We’ve found that the more people find out about the Silvertown Tunnel, the more they don’t want it.

What happens next?

We expect TfL will announce it is going ahead with the tunnel in early 2016 (probably around February) – essentially so mayor Boris Johnson can have it signed off before he leaves office.

It’s expected to apply for planning permission in the spring, with TfL hoping a final decision will be taken by the Secretary of State for Transport in the summer of 2017.

But this timetable isn’t set in stone. And the new mayor can change all this by scrapping the scheme as soon as he or she is elected. So May’s City Hall elections are vitally important.

Conservative Zac Goldsmith and Labour’s Sadiq Khan are yet to say what they’ll do. Both are well aware of the problems with the tunnel scheme. But we don’t yet know what their thoughts are.

What can I do?

We need as many people as we can to get in touch with them – Goldsmith at backzac2016.com, Khan at sadiq.london – and tell them they’ll lose votes if they continue with TfL’s toxic tunnel.

Want to support a candidate who’s against the tunnel? Get in touch with Green candidate Sian Berry at sianberry.london or Liberal Democrat contender Caroline Pidgeon (carolinepidgeon.org).

If you get canvassed by any of the parties – tell them you oppose the Silvertown Tunnel. And ask your MP, assembly member and councillor what they’re doing to influence the mayoral candidates – get in touch with them via writetothem.com.

The Silvertown Tunnel is a threat to a great swathe of London – that’s why both Hackney and Lewisham councils passed motions against it. If you can take a few minutes to email a mayoral candidate with your concerns, you’ll be doing thousands of people a huge favour.

Lewisham Council votes to oppose TfL’s toxic Silvertown Tunnel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The motion was passed by all councillors present.

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

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

Time’s running out: Here’s some help in saying NO to TfL’s toxic Silvertown Tunnel

Rochester Way traffic jam

A southbound jam on the A2 in Kidbrooke – in 2014, TfL predicted 20% extra traffic would use this route, adding to pollution and congestion

Transport for London’s consultation into the Silvertown Tunnel ends on Sunday 29 November. You can find out more about why the tunnel’s such a bad idea on the rest of our website. 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 some suggested responses. Everyone will have a slightly different view, so feel free to add your own comments, or amend ours as you see fit.

(Want more detail? Here’s our FULL 18-page response.)

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.

Do you support the Silvertown Tunnel scheme as a means to address congestion and closures at the Blackwall Tunnel, and support future growth in London?


If you have any comments about our intention to apply for consent to build and operate the Silvertown Tunnel scheme, please let us know in the space below.

The Silvertown Tunnel will not reduce congestion. Indeed, it is very likely to increase southbound congestion on the A102 and A2, and general congestion on the A1261 Aspen Way and A1020 Leamouth Road, Lower Lea Crossing and North Woolwich Road, and on other roads in east and south-east London.

[You may have a better idea of how the Silvertown Tunnel will affect roads in your part of London – so please feel free to add your own thoughts and name the roads you think will be affected.]

London’s future growth would be better secured by investment in public transport provision.

It is inappropriate that this statutory consultation is taking place on the strength of preliminary assessments. This means environmental risks have not been fully assessed in the final public consultation. We are not being presented with full assessments.

Connections to the existing road network: We have described the proposed design of new junctions to link the tunnel to the existing road network. If you have any comments on the design of these new junctions please let us know in the space below.

The only changes envisaged to the existing road network are in the immediate vicinity of the proposed tunnel. The consequences of the scheme further north and south have been ignored.

The planned widening of the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach fails to include provision for the inevitable increased traffic heading for the two tunnels. Junctions on the A102 and A2 further south, for instance at the Sun-in-the-Sands, are already under considerable pressure, and are set to remain so. Many residents fear the loss of their homes in the future.

The two A102 flyovers, at Woolwich Road and Blackwall Lane, will experience exceptional strain on their infrastructure. Engineering assessments already indicate they are in a poor condition. This extra strain will result in considerable additional expenditure to ensure their safety.

North of the Thames, the proposal to elongate the Tidal Basin Roundabout – where there are many homes under construction – will result in a sharp decline in the area’s air quality and a huge increase in noise pollution.

Currently, entry and exit roads to this roundabout and links to the A12 and A13 are narrow and complex. These roads are likely to become congested and development in the area will not permit any changes to the layout.

Construction impacts: Our proposals for constructing the Silvertown Tunnel are at an early stage, although we have included our initial thoughts on what temporary road closures and diversions might be necessary. If you have any comments on our construction proposals and their potential impacts please let us know in the space below.

The Silvertown Tunnel’s heavy reliance on the A102/A2 corridor will be exposed by four years of disruption if construction goes ahead.

Public transport users and residents of Greenwich Millennium Village, City Peninsula and nearby developments will bear the brunt of this. North Greenwich station already struggles to cope with the evening rush hour and O2 events. Disruption from road closures and construction traffic will make this worse.

North of the river, the effects of 200 lorries per day on the Silvertown worksite will harm the environment for those moving into new developments in this area.

While the Greenwich side will see fewer movements, the peak period of 140 lorries per day will add to the noise pollution faced by those who live near the A102, particularly around Westcombe Hill and Siebert Road.

User charges: As part of our plans for the new Silvertown Tunnel we are proposing to apply a user charge to both the existing Blackwall Tunnel and the proposed new tunnel in order to manage traffic demand and pay for the new tunnel to be built. The level of the charge would be set closer to the time that the Silvertown Tunnel opens, taking account of the conditions that exist at that time. Further details are set out in the ‘Preliminary Charging Report’, which is available to download. If you have any comments on our proposals for user charging please let us know in the space below.

TfL suggests it can limit the number of vehicles using the Silvertown and Blackwall tunnels by applying user charges. But as TfL will always be under pressure from users and politicians to make these charges affordable, it won’t be able to react to traffic volumes as easily as it suggests.

If these charges are the only thing protecting our neighbourhoods from excess traffic and additional pollution, TfL needs to provide robust evidence to show that the number of vehicles will be kept at a manageable level. TfL has not provided sufficient evidence so far.

The suggested user charges place an unfair burden on residents and businesses of south east London and Kent, as the peak hour charging applies to the northbound tunnel in the morning rush hour and the southbound tunnel in the evening.

Driving a car will remain the cheapest method of crossing the river at any time outside rush hour (including at weekends, when no charges will apply).

At rush hour prices, driving is cheaper if the car carries just one additional passenger. This seems unlikely to encourage drivers to shift to other modes of transport, meaning demand for the tunnel will still be very high.

Environmental effects: We have described the likely environmental effects of the Silvertown Tunnel scheme and described some mitigating measures we would take. Further details are set out in the ‘Preliminary Environmental Information Report’ (PEIR), which is available to download. If you have any comments on the likely environmental effects of the scheme and the proposed mitigation measures, or on any of the information set out in the PEIR, please let us know in the space below.

There isn’t enough definitive information presented here to allow anyone to come to the conclusion that the tunnel is safe.

Air quality modelling will only be completed after the scheme is no longer being consulted on. We should not be building new roads that risk placing our neighbourhoods in danger. TfL argues the air quality impact will be limited because user charges will limit the number of vehicles using the crossing. If this assumption isn’t safe, then neither is any reassurance about pollution.

The disruption caused while the tunnel is being constructed will be immense. TfL hasn’t done enough to reassure anyone that construction traffic can be kept off local roads, or that it can mitigate the noise of construction.

Traffic impacts: We have described the traffic impacts of the Silvertown Tunnel scheme and explained that we would monitor its effects on traffic before and after opening. Further details are set out in the ‘Preliminary Transport Assessment’ and ‘Preliminary Monitoring and Mitigation Strategy’, which is available to download. We would take appropriate measures to mitigate any negative effects that might occur as a result of the scheme. These measures could involve adjusting traffic light timings or other traffic management measures. If you have any concerns about the effect of the Silvertown Tunnel scheme in any particular location, or comments about how we might mitigate these, please let us know in the space below.

Even before the new tunnel is built, there is already heavy traffic through the southbound Blackwall Tunnel during the morning rush hour. This traffic won’t be charged at peak rates under the proposals.

There is very often congestion on both approaches to Blackwall at the weekend as people travel to shopping and leisure events on both sides of the Thames. Yet there are no plans to apply a user charge at weekends. With these facts in mind, it is unlikely that the planned user charging scheme will stop the congestion and pollution we see at present.

On both sides of the river, the new tunnel will funnel traffic in both directions into road networks that aren’t ready for the additional vehicles.

As the intention is to direct HGVs to use the new tunnel, northbound HGV traffic will be encouraged to use the A13. Pollution readings from the A12/A13 junction at East India Dock Road suggest this route is already over-burdened by traffic.

Meanwhile, southbound traffic from the existing and new tunnels will both be funnelled into the A102/A2, which already suffers from congestion, particularly in the evening rush hour, as traffic heads through Kidbrooke.

The only way to ease the burden here would be to ensure a net reduction in southbound traffic, which this scheme won’t deliver.

Much of the information that the public needs to make an informed decision on whether the Silvertown Tunnel is an adequate solution to traffic problems just isn’t available.

TfL promises to monitor traffic impacts for five years after the new tunnel opens and for two years before opening (2020 on current dates). If TfL wanted to present accurate information, this monitoring should already have started.

Cross-river bus services: The Silvertown Tunnel scheme would give us the opportunity to introduce new cross-river bus routes for east London. We have described an illustrative cross-river bus network for east London in the ‘Preliminary Transport Assessment’, which is available to download. If you have any comments on the introduction of new cross-river bus routes please let us know in the space below.

The only thing stopping TfL from running more buses across the Thames at this point is TfL. Additional single-deck buses could be run through the Blackwall Tunnel. Passengers have called for a more frequent service on the existing route 108, but these requests have been rejected.

Any other comments: Do you have any comments on any other issue connected to the Silvertown Tunnel scheme. If so, please let us know in the space below.

PFI arrangements will mean that in the long run, TfL will pay more money to build new infrastructure than would have been the case if the project was funded by central government or via bond offers. As the scheme depends on user charging to pay the construction costs, TfL has a reason to make sure traffic volumes aren’t drastically reduced – even though this is what safeguarding public health requires.

According to the scheme documents, one of the main reasons for building the tunnel is to make the road network more resilient to blockages and closures of the Blackwall Tunnel.

Yet the scheme retains a tunnel built for horse traffic in 1897 and does not attempt to rectify its design shortcomings. It seems likely that any resilience improvements will be limited – particularly as both tunnels will still rely on the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach and its two flyovers that TfL assessments state are in a “poor” condition.

The consultation documents only present the best case scenario for use of the Silvertown Tunnel after it’s built. It does not adequately reflect the risks to local neighbourhoods if the best case doesn’t come to pass. For example, the documents don’t reflect the costs associated with ill-health brought about by higher levels of air pollution – early death, loss of productivity through ill-health, healthcare costs, etc, if it’s found that current models are incorrect and there is an increase in vehicle emissions once the tunnel is built.

£1 billion spent on this scheme is £1 billion that isn’t being spent on improving public transport in east and south-east London. Public transport services on this side of the capital are a long way behind provision to the north and west. Spending money on roads before public transport will widen this gap.

Defra’s air quality models, used for this scheme, depend on the assumption that diesel vehicles will meet EU standards by the compliance date. The recent Volkswagen scandal has shown this assumption to be unsafe. Much more analysis of the safety of increased volumes of traffic needs to be carried out.

TfL argues that development won’t happen without enhancing the road network. But it also argues that development is already planned, and so will require additional roads. Both of these things can’t be true. Considering that development across east and south east London has already been boosted by public transport improvements, it seems more likely that neither of these things are true.

Tell London’s mayoral candidates: No to Silvertown Tunnel

City Hall by Maciek Lulko

Whoever takes charge at City Hall next year can cancel the Silvertown Tunnel. (City Hall by Maciek Lulko used under Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0).

It might be August, but we’ve reached a vitally important time in our campaign. Political parties are choosing who they want as their candidates to be the person who can cancel the Silvertown Tunnel – the next London mayor.

If you could find the time to email at least one of the potential candidates, you could make a huge difference to our campaign.

The more people who tell these candidates they are opposed to the Silvertown Tunnel, the better. So if you can help us, we’d be really grateful.

Labour mayoral candidate Christian Wolmar says: No to Silvertown Tunnel

Transport expert Christian Wolmar, who is standing to be the Labour party’s candidate in next year’s mayoral election, has branded the Silvertown Tunnel “a deadly disaster” for east and south east London.

“There is no way we should be building infrastructure that, as TfL admits, will make air quality worse. Poor air is already killing more than 4,000 Londoners every year and that scandal must be stopped,” he says.

“We need better public transport and facilities to encourage more people to walk or cycle. History has shown us that building more roads attracts more traffic. The Silvertown scheme is no exception.”

We’re grateful to Christian, who has consistently supported our campaign and spoke at our annual general meeting in January.

If you’re a Labour supporter and would like to back him to be the party’s candidate, visit www.wolmarforlondon.co.uk or the Labour website to find out how to sign up.

Please tell the other Labour candidates: No to Silvertown Tunnel

But what about the other Labour candidates? We’ve heard very little about the Silvertown Tunnel from Tessa Jowell, Sadiq Khan, Diane Abbott, David Lammy and Gareth Thomas. If you’re thinking of picking them in Labour’s selection, please drop them a line to find out their position on the tunnel.

Remember, Hackney Council’s decision to oppose the tunnel demonstrates that this isn’t a local issue that just affects a few thousand people – Boris’s toxic tunnel would have consequences right across London. If you get a response, please let us know.

Please tell Tory, Green and Lib Dem candidates: No to Silvertown Tunnel

The Conservatives have just announced their candidates, and if you’re a party supporter, we’d be grateful if you could remind their hopefuls of the damage the Silvertown Tunnel would do. They are: Zac Goldsmith, Syed Kamall, Andrew Boff and Stephen Greenhalgh. Again, we’d love to know any response you get. Just as with the Labour selection, non-members can vote for the Conservatives’ candidate too.

We’re really grateful for the consistent support the Green Party has given us, particularly at City Hall. The Greens are opposed to the Silvertown Tunnel, but if you’re a supporter, we’re sure their candidates wouldn’t object to a reminder of what a serious issue this is. They are Jonathan Bartley, Siân Berry, Tom Chance, Benali Hamdache, Rashid Nix and Caroline Russell.

Finally, we’re also thankful for the backing Caroline Pidgeon has given our campaign, and we’re delighted she’s standing to be the Liberal Democrats’ candidate. We’re waiting to see what the final shortlist looks like, but for now you can get in touch with the hopefuls via Lib Dem Voice.

Is there any other way I can help stop the Silvertown Tunnel?

If you’re in the emailing mood, you could ask your local councillors, MP or London Assembly members – what are you are doing to oppose the Silvertown Tunnel? Use www.writetothem.com to find out who they are and to get in touch.

If you’d like to help us in other ways, then we always need funds to produce leaflets and other campaign materials – we’d be very grateful for any donations. We also need volunteers to help deliver leaflets over the coming months. If you can help, please drop us a line at info@silvertowntunnel.co.uk.

Hackney Council declares its opposition to the Silvertown Tunnel

Hackney Town Hall

Hackney Council has demanded the toxic Silvertown Tunnel road scheme is axed – adding pressure on London’s mayoral hopefuls to pledge to abandon the controversial road scheme.

A motion put before the council on Wednesday night called for the £1bn tunnel, between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, to be scrapped because it would increase traffic and air pollution across east London.

“You cannot build your way out of congestion,” the motion read, adding: “The additional road capacity would lead to a significant increase in motor traffic in Hackney and significantly worsen air quality in this borough.”

Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors joined forces to pass the motion at Hackney Town Hall.

The tunnel, proposed by current mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London, would increase capacity for traffic from Kent into east London – particularly HGVs, which are banned from the northbound Blackwall Tunnel.

It would also worsen bottlenecks on both sides of the river, particularly on roads which struggle to cope with existing traffic levels.

“Citizen science” air quality studies conducted by the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign have found nitrogen dioxide levels well above EU levels in areas close to the proposed tunnel and its approach roads.

And Hackney’s call for the tunnel to be scrapped shows politicians are beginning to recognise the scheme will also do damage to a much wider area.

Labour mayoral hopeful Christian Wolmar has condemned the scheme as “a deadly disaster” while Lewisham and Southwark Councils have also expressed serious concerns.

Introducing the motion, Cllr Richard Lufkin (Labour, Shacklewell) said: “Building this tunnel will have a significant effect on traffic flow and air quality in this borough. Increased motor traffic would come flooding into Hackney, most probably at the East Cross/ Hackney Wick junction, and spread right across the borough.”

Seconding the motion, Cllr Peter Snell (Labour, Dalston) said: “The Silvertown Tunnel introduces a huge increase in lorry capacity in particular across the Thames, bringing them much, much closer to central London. It will increase the pressure on Hackney’s streets.”

Hackney’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods, Cllr Feryal Demirci (Labour, Hoxton East & Shoreditch), said: “In addition to the congestion, air quality will be worsened. Thirty per cent of asthma in children in London is caused by poor air quality. In Hackney alone, we have 18 schools within metres of roads which carry more than 10,000 vehicles a day. ”

Liberal Democrat Cllr Abraham Jacobson (Cazenove) called for more sustainable crossings of the Thames: “We can have a tunnel – but for cycles and pedestrians. All you’ll have is more capacity bringing more cars. We don’t need it. Nobody needs it.”

No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign chair Nikki Coates said.

“We’re delighted that Hackney councillors have made clear their opposition to the Silvertown Tunnel. They have recognised that this toxic tunnel will only increase traffic and air pollution in east and south east London, making a bad situation even worse.

“We hope other councils and London’s mayoral candidates will sit up and see that this poorly thought-through scheme will do damage right across our city.

“The next mayor must cancel the Silvertown Tunnel.”

Video: Why TfL’s Silvertown Tunnel won’t cure Blackwall Tunnel congestion

Transport for London constantly claims the Silvertown Tunnel will cure congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel. That’s simply not true. It’ll do nothing to relieve the queues heading south on the A12 through Bow and Poplar, while additional traffic will merely exacerbate the congestion on the A102 and A2 through Greenwich, Kidbrooke, Eltham, Bexleyheath and beyond.

Don’t believe us? We took a Friday rush hour road trip to find out. Unlike TfL’s video, ours contains real traffic…

Fight this toxic tunnel: TfL launches new consultation into polluting, congesting Silvertown Tunnel

Smog and traffic which can only get heavier: Charlton Road, 5pm on 2 April

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.

Silvertown Tunnel south proposal

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.


It’s worth noting that Canary Wharf Group – recently identified as being behind an anonymous campaign against new cycling lanes in central London – is one of the firms backing the Silvertown Tunnel.

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.

The consultation will be published at www.tfl.gov.uk/silvertown-tunnel on Wednesday.

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. Strangely, the council didn't hand out any of its pro-tunnel postcards in the areas that would be affected by the tunnel...

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.

Newham Waterfront Festival

We talked to residents at the Newham Waterfront Festival in September – and found many simply weren’t aware of the tunnel proposals

Over the past two years, the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign has launched the first petition against the tunnel, held a public meeting outlining the case against the tunnel, talked to locals at summer events, and revealed the shocking levels of air quality along the southbound approaches through two citizen science surveys. Committee members Darryl Chamberlain and Stewart Christie were given Clean Air in Cities awards to recognise our work in highlighting an issue which is killing people in communities north and south of the Thames – one our politicians will only make worse with a new tunnel.

We’ve also contributed to MPs’ questioning of Mayor Boris Johnson on air pollution issues, responded to the last crossings consultation, met local politicians to outline our concerns, and launched a petition to make one of those alternative public transport links – a Barking to Thamesmead and Abbey Wood London Overground extension – a reality.

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.

Please tell your neighbours, lobby your local politicians, come to one of our open meetings – or email info@silvertowntunnel.co.uk if you can offer any help.

Here’s the quote we’ve sent the press today…

“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.”

“No to Silvertown Tunnel” announce a new air pollution study for January

Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach, 2010

It’s two months since we revealed the results of our first pollution study along the approaches to the Silvertown Tunnel. Our findings have prompted a debate that neither the Mayor of London nor Greenwich Council wanted to have – about pollution and congestion in our part of south-east London.

We’ve changed minds, too – with Labour hopefuls to be their candidate in Greenwich & Woolwich speaking out against the tunnel, and local Liberal Democrats have come out against it as well. And only a fortnight ago, Lewisham Council restated its worries about a tunnel that its neighbours in Greenwich are blindly backing.

It’s clear that the backers of the Silvertown Tunnel have no evidence that it will do any good. We have evidence that it will do harm. But we need to persuade more people of this – the tunnel still appears in TfL’s new business plan, released last week.

So we’re planning a new pollution study, to take place in January. And we’d like you to get involved. You can either help us fit tubes, or help us fund them, or both.

This study will be bigger than the one we carried out this summer. It’ll stretch out further along roads which will be affected by the Silvertown Tunnel. This will give us more comprehensive results, and will enable us to get wider media attention.

  • It’ll run along the A2 into Welling, Sidcup and Bexleyheath. Homes here face onto a motorway-style dual carriageway which will have to accommodate more traffic if the Silvertown Tunnel is built. Despite this, Bexley Council backs the new crossing.
  • We’ll be surveying along the A200 Creek Road and Evelyn Street, through Deptford and up to the Rotherhithe one-way system. If the Silvertown Tunnel is built, these streets face a huge increase in traffic.
  • Our study will also look further along the South Circular Road, towards Catford, to look at the impact on a road which is already busy and bears the brunt whenever there is a problem on the Blackwall Tunnel approach.

Think your area should be involved? Then get in touch. We already have community groups in Deptford pledging to get involved – the results will also come in useful for their campaigns against the Convoys Wharf development and Thames Water’s sewage tunnel works.

Whether you’re on your own (we’ll find you someone to work with) or there’s a couple of you, or you’re in a community group, we’d like the widest possible number of people to take part, whether north or south of the river Thames.

All we ask is that you put the tubes up on a weekday between 6-10 January, leave them there for four weeks, and take them down between 3-7 February. (We have to pick weekdays to make them fit in with existing air pollution studies carried out by local councils.) All you’ll need is a stool or stepladder, a pair of scissors, and a camera – we’ll show you the rest.

Can’t spare the time but would like to help? We’re looking for funding for the tubes, which cost £7 each which includes the cost of processing at the laboratory. We’re also looking for business sponsorship, to prove to Greenwich Council that local firms actually do care about their area.

We’ll also be meeting on January 12th to formalise our campaign’s constitution and talk a bit more about the shape that the campaign will take in the future. If you’d like to know more about what we’re suggesting or if you’d like to join us at that meeting, drop us a line at info@silvertowntunnel.co.uk

If you can spare time or money, please get in touch. We appreciate it’s a busy time – but helping us stop the Silvertown Tunnel might be the best New Year’s resolution you’ve made in years.

October 16th Public Meeting: Part 4 – John Elliott, Independent Transport Consultant

The Q&A session about to start at the No to Silvertown Public Meeting, The Forum, Greenwich, London SE10 - October 16th 2013

On October 16th, 2013 the “No to Silvertown Tunnel” campaign held a public meeting at The Forum in Greenwich to announce the results of our NO2 air pollution monitoring experiment. The following post features transcripts, slides and video from that meeting.

« Part 1 – NO2 Air Pollution in Greenwich Borough

« Part 2 – Dr. Ian Mudway: “Air pollution bad for human health?”

« Part 3 – Simon Birkett, Clean Air in London

Chris Taylor: So now you’ve heard from two speakers regarding the issues of air quality and you may still think, “Well, surely, more river crossings; more dispersal might help this problem.”

But unfortunately we don’t believe that to be the case. We have here John Elliott, an independent transport consultant with over 40 years’ experience in all aspects of transport planning. John has worked at the GLC, and is an expert in traffic management and the impact of building new roads. Obviously, as the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign, we would beg you to pay close attention to what John has to tell us. Some of it is almost counter-intuitive and it’s also quite startling.

John Elliott, Independent Transport Consultant

Thank you. Good evening. First of all, if anybody needs to get in touch with me the [bottom of this page] has contact details, so if people have queries, do come back.

What I wanted to cover was:

  • The schemes and their history – their history is very very long indeed.
  • Traffic generation from new roads – which as has been explained, I’ve done a lot of work on. But I’m not the only one to have done work on this. There is such a body of evidence that shows that new roads, especially in big urban areas, generate phenomenal volumes of traffic. The comment was made that perhaps TfL understands this better than central government, because some of the policies coming out of central government in the rest of the country are even worse.
  • TfL case and report on consultation – I wanted to cover that, and what the traffic committee of the London Assembly said about that consultation, which was quite informative, and the results of the TfL report on the consultation which had some quite interesting things.
  • Effects of traffic management tolls, etc. – our case, my case and TfL’s case – They’re very much the same if you sort out the words properly.

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 1

Anyway, the Silvertown scheme doubles the capacity across the Thames. I don’t know what’s going to happen to that road [points to A2] because it’s full at the moment, and it’s regulated by the Blackwall Tunnel – if it has twice the capacity, it’ll have twice the volume perhaps. The Silvertown link – I’ve fought two enquiries on it, one for Ken Livingstone and one against Ken Livingstone, because he was in favour of it when it was the Thames Gateway Bridge, well it was the East London River Crossing.

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 2

It could be a ferry, which I don’t think would cause a big problem with air pollution where a road certainly would. And the case was made that this scheme would extract traffic from the Blackwall Tunnel and make it work.

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 3

The London plan of roads in 1970: Ringway 1 included the Blackwall Tunnel and its approaches. Interestingly, I was involved afterwards, and the modelled flows on that link of road in 1968 were 340,000 vehicles a day on a four-lane road in each direction. It wouldn’t fit; it just wouldn’t, it was physically impossible. And of course this other Ringway [Ringway 2], when you looked at the detail, was exactly where Gallions Reach is now. And that scheme, Gallions Reach – whether it’s renamed a bit like Sellafield – it’s been there since 1944 in various guises.

When I joined the Greater London Council, I was told by the politicians there that roads generate traffic. This was a matter of policy. The government said traffic will increase regardless, and that was a matter of policy. So I tried to be professional, and civil engineers think you build a bypass, it takes traffic away from the area, so it’s good to build bypasses. So I had this difficult situation where the politicians were my masters but I wanted to keep being professional.

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 4

So I found all these bits of road had been built, and the GLC had the data. That section of the M25, the M1 extension of the North Circular Road, the M3 and A316, Westway – just off the end of Marylebone Road, Blackwall Tunnel and its northern tunnel approaches, and the M11.

I looked at all of those, and I had really good traffic data between 1966 and 1986 on all those schemes, and they’re sizeable schemes. So what actually happened? I’ll just take a couple of these.

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 5

That’s what happened with Westway. This is the Westway corridor, not just the road. Bayswater Road was just as full five years afterwards as it was before. But for the whole corridor, the traffic levels have doubled. This is just on the fringe of central London. Two sort of controls – they’re not ideal controls – the Brompton Road corridor which was Brompton Road, Old Brompton Road, Fulham Road, and the Finchley Road corridor, which was Finchley Road, Abbey Road and St John’s Wood Road. So you can see what happens in other corridors where there’s less road improvements. And you can see there’s very little change, but interestingly there was a change in this period. Both those roads – the Swiss Cottage gyratory was built, and the Earls Court one-way system was changed – so even there, there’s generated traffic but this is the nearest you can get to a control.

That’s the reference to my report, which was re-published by a transport magazine, so anyone can refer to that and it’s a public document that you can get hold of. It was hushed up when the GLC closed.

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 6

The Blackwall tunnel: this is peak traffic. It doubles within – this is a before and after study which I think was about six months apart. The total flow on the Blackwall tunnel doubled. Where did it come from? Nowhere, really, it’s all new. Unless there were a lot of amphibious vehicles before, it’s all new traffic. That’s peak.

I think for the Blackwall tunnel it was about three years before the all-day traffic doubled, where it was five years for Westway, it was only about three years for Blackwall. It was really an enormous increase.

Going on to TfL’s reasons that they gave for the scheme in the consultation document:

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 7

‘More river crossings will help our city grow’: the claims are all about reducing road congestion and improving reliability and opportunity to enhance environment and access for pedestrians and cyclists. I’ve very slightly paraphrased what they said but you can go back to the document, that’s roughly what they said.

London has grown very substantially in the last twenty years, it has increased by about 2 million, I think. Traffic volumes, even in outer London, are now going down, while there’s been a big increase in population, so do we need more roads to cover less traffic?

More and large roads increase traffic and increase congestion elsewhere – and pedestrian and cyclists! I don’t know how they used that in the consultation.

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 8

The second one was ‘improving public transport’ and here they describe extensive improvements to public transport in the region, but state that not every journey can be made by public transport. Well, yeah, you can’t. And in East London a lot has been done on public transport, but also a lot has been spent on roads: the A13 has been upgraded, the route along the south bank through Thamesmead and all that’s been upgraded, Lee Highway (?) has been built. There’s a lot of road-space that’s been added, mainly in a radial direction.

What’s the real evidence more capacity is needed and helpful at either Blackwall/Silvertown or Gallions Reach in particular – if it’s needed? Existing roads are still available. They presently carry a number of commuters into Central London, some of which will transfer with continued improvements to public transport, and if people transfer then there’s more space for essential traffic.

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 9

That was their slide to say of network capacity across, road network capacity has only increased a little bit where public transport capacity has increase a lot. All I can say is that’s good, anyway, as far as I can see.

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 10

The third case – and somewhat overlapping cases were given by the consultation – ‘the problems we’re trying to solve:’

  • Regular, long delays at the Blackwall tunnel, particularly during peak times – so that is where there’s no evidence that it’ll solve it.
  • Frequent closures of the Blackwall tunnel.
  • The need to replace the Woolwich ferry infrastructure – that was said in 1986, when the East London River Crossing came up.
  • And the need for additional road connections to support growth – maybe it would be nice to cross the Thames more often, but do we need to cross it with a big road? And even if you separated London at the Thames, North of the Thames and South of the Thames have probably got better connectivity than anywhere else in the country. So you might want more, but do we actually need it for those stated reasons? Will additional capacity address these problems? I do not think it will. It’s more likely to exacerbate by generating additional traffic on the road network, with delays, congestion and of course pollution with more traffic in many other places across the whole of East London.

Are there any other real solutions to traffic problems in the east and throughout London? I would suggest:-

  • Continuing public transport, cycle and pedestrian improvements that have been successful.
  • A congestion charge at the M25 hasn’t been tried yet, but there’s an awful lot of people who do commute from outside London into London, and do they really need to come in by car? If they left their cars at the London boundary you’d get rid of quite a lot of the traffic.
  • So park and ride at the M25 – I’m not totally in favour of park and ride as really, preferably, you should be on the rail or bus all the way, but having got to where we are, East London could be protected with a congestion charge and park and ride.
  • More local pedestrian, cycling and transport connections throughout East London. There’s a big area, Dagenham to Erith, there’s a very long stretch of river there that hasn’t got a single crossing and none are planned.

London Assembly response on the consultation: I think it would be helpful to look at this. They made these three bullet points

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 11

“TFL should set out clearly the objectives of its proposals for new river crossings, and their different impacts” It’s quite telling that this is obviously a group that still believe – or most of them believe – that road improvements could help. “It would be important therefore for TfL to define the purpose and differential benefits of both proposals under consideration, including a wider range of options beyond the principal proposals of these two road schemes” So: no other proposals.

“Consultation material on potential schemes should acknowledge the different impacts the proposed options could have on local communities in east and south-east London”

“We would like to see more information on the delivery implications. We would also welcome evidence of TfL’s work to manage demand for the crossings.”

That was under principle 1, the first bullet point.

Principle 2: TfL’s consultation process must be transparent. “The information used to underpin the Mayor’s and TfL’s proposal [?] should be available for the duration of the consultation process. The more information TfL provides on the impacts of the crossing, the more legitimate it will make the consultation process. TfL should learn from the successes and failures of other schemes,” and they said that the inspector’s report from Thames Gateway Bridge, where the inspector was very doubtful about the economic regeneration with Thames Gateway Bridge, and he also commented about the second Blackwall Tunnel doubling the flows.

So the summary of the report on the consultation – this is TfL’s comments on their consultation –

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 12

“the comments we received highlighted these are issues TfL needs to address in the ongoing river crossings programme” – shame it wasn’t addressd before the consultation.

“The range of opinions for replacing the Woolwich Ferry highlighted that further consultation would be necessary” – there were a lot of opinions there.

“Strong appetite within the public and stakeholders for TfL to consider crossings for cyclists, pedestrians and public transport users” that were not included in the proposals.

And finally, last but not least:

“Highlighting potential issues associated with a user charging regime, including how it might work, when it might apply and who would pay.” It seemed there were an awful lot of people who were strongly against the charging regime. And the scheme will not work, and is not worth engaging in at all without some sort of charging regime, I don’t believe.

So what sort of charging regime would you have? This is where I go back to my forty years of dealing with these sorts of things. But trying to break it down:

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 13

Scenario 1: Tolls high enough not to increase traffic at all. That would mean diversion of the existing traffic to the existing crossings, negligible benefit – because you wouldn’t get any more traffic through than you’ve got at the moment – for enormous cost, but still traffic gets to the next congestion point quicker, and there are different places for queuing traffic. Now there’ll always be queueing traffic, there’s always an insatiable demand […] There’s the same amount of traffic around, it’ll queue somewhere else if it doesn’t queue at Blackwall.

Scenario 2: No tolls. And the evidence is that you’ll get 100% – or thereabouts – more traffic. Because you’ve got 100% extra capacity.

So, what did TfL say about it in the Report on the Consultation? They go further than just the tolls: “it will be necessary to understand the specific traffic impacts of the potential new crossing options at Silvertown before we could determine whether any further traffic management schemes might be necessary elsewhere in London rather than simply on the approach roads to any new crossing point” It’d never work.

“However in the absence of charging, this additional capacity could attract excessive volumes of traffic” – same thing as I’ve just said.

The funding I haven’t mentioned – obviously – they’ve got to fund it, and funding is an important reason for the tolls.

But then there’s “no decision to be made”, but without some decision, without some ideas about how it’d work, the scheme in my book is dead in the water, and they shouldn’t be consulting on something that can’t go ahead.

John Elliott on East London River Crossings - Slide 14

So that’s what I hope I’ve covered, and obviously I’ll be open to questions. Thank you.

« Part 1 – NO2 Air Pollution in Greenwich Borough

« Part 2 – Dr. Ian Mudway: “Air pollution bad for human health?”

« Part 3 – Simon Birkett, Clean Air in London

“No to Silvertown Tunnel” would like to thank John Elliott for taking the time to come to Greenwich and discuss issues of transport planning and induced traffic with us.

John can be contacted by telephone on 01227 765 626 and 07810 204 400 or through his website at www.johnelliottconsultancy.co.uk

Subsequent posts will feature the remainder of the meeting and presentations from Sian Berry and Andrew Wood, along with the public Q&A session.