Fresh controversy has hit the Silvertown Tunnel scheme in east London after Friends of the Earth and Southwark Council called for the project to be reconsidered because of air quality concerns.
The latest blow has comes days after it was revealed that the Health & Safety Executive has major concerns about the scheme.
“Londoners’ lungs are already blighted by some of the worst pollution in the country and we must be doing everything we can to make that better, not add to the problem,” said Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates.
“If the mayor is serious about dealing with air pollution and improving the lives of Londoners then he must scrap this project before it starts. If he doesn’t withdraw it, the government must reject it.”
Southwark Council added that pollution from the Silvertown Tunnel could make it difficult for it to meet that new requirements placed on councils under the UK’s air quality plan.
“With an increase in vehicular traffic and a lack of proposed mitigation along the A200 corridor within Southwark, Silvertown Tunnel is likely to make this more challenging and move the borough further away from being able to meet its obligations contained within the UK Air Quality Plan,” said a letter from the council.
Since the government’s final air quality plan was published in July, transport secretary Chris Grayling has asked for updated evidence from Transport for London (TfL) on how the proposed Silvertown Tunnel scheme will comply with new standards.
Although the new modelling shows that pollution would become worse in some areas, TfL argues that the tunnel will comply with pollution requirements as the deterioration falls within accepted limits. As a result London’s ability to meet air quality targets would be unaffected.
“This updated assessment has demonstrated that the UK Air Quality Plan does not change the conclusions of the air quality assessment supporting the application,” said TfL’s letter to Grayling.
“Accordingly, no further mitigation measures (in addition to those already included in the applicant’s proposals) are considered necessary.”
TfL has been contacted for comment.