The scheme proposal for a new Thames tunnel at Silvertown is to be designated as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project by transport secretary Justine Greening, raising the prospect of the route opening to traffic by 2021.
The new designation of the project means that it will now be subject to a Development Consent Order by the secretary of state, which could reduce the time needed to secure approvals for the project.
London mayor Boris Johnson has welcomed the move as it will help deliver his objective of having this new crossing in place and open to traffic by 2021.
Construction of the Silvertown Tunnel is being championed by Johnson as it would add network capacity and reduce congestion affecting other crossings in east London. Work on another Johnson-championed crossing – the Emirates Air Line, which is due to open today – has been designed specifically to future proof the route for the new tunnel with piles for the cable car supports designed to straddle the planned tunnel.
Transport for London will now start work on design for the tunnel and further consultations will be held later this year.