The decision on whether to grant the Silvertown Tunnel a development consent order has been put back six months by the government.
Transport minister Paul Maynard said in a statement to Parliament that the decision, which has already been delayed once, has been put back six months to 10 May 2018, to give the government more time to consider air quality issues.
The move was criticised by National Infrastructure Commission chairman Lord Adonis, who said it was “very disappointing”.
He said: ”Another Thames crossing is desperately needed to ease congestion, improve air quality and support the further development of east London.
“Today’s announcement to further delay a decision on the proposed Silvertown Tunnel is very disappointing, halting progress and leaving communities in limbo.
“I strongly urge Ministers to act swiftly and to bring an end to this latest delay much more quickly than in six months’ time, so we can make progress on this much needed crossing.”
The project is one of 12 which Adonis identified in his post-election statement in June as crucial and needs urgent action.
Transport for London (TfL) is developing the Silvertown Tunnel and put the application in at the end of April 2016. The tunnel will be a twin bore road tunnel under the River Thames, providing a new connection between the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach and the Tidal Basin roundabout junction on the A1020 Lower Lea Crossing, London.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling was supposed to make a decision by 11 October.
The statement said: “The deadline for the decision is to be extended to 10 May 2018 (an extension of 6 months) to enable further consideration of the effect of the scheme on air quality (including its compliance with the updated UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations published by government on 26 July 2017).”
Friends of the Earth and Southwark Council have both called for the project to be reconsidered because of air quality concerns.
Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates said: “This is a welcome delay to an outdated road scheme which would add pollution to some of the worst air in the country, unfairly affecting the health of some of the most disadvantaged in our society.
“Alternative ways to relieve congestion from the Blackwall tunnel exist. If the Mayor is serious about dealing with London’s toxic air, he must take this chance to abandon this damaging scheme and instead invest in ways to help people walk, cycle and access public transport more easily.”
New Civil Engineer has contacted TfL for a response.