Register to give your views on Silvertown Tunnel
Remember the Silvertown Tunnel?
It’s the proposed road tunnel that would cross the Thames from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Victoria Docks, roughly under the Emirate Air Line.
TfL says that the tunnel is necessary to relieve the jams on the Blackwall Tunnel approaches, and that it and the Blackwall Tunnel must be charged, to pay for the work and also keep traffic at current levels. But local users have complained that any charges are discriminatory, when crossings further west are likely to remain free of charge.
And critics – including EGRA and its members - also argue that any new roads encourage more people to drive, and that this scheme would lead to bottlenecks and congestion throughout the area, which already suffers from heavy traffic and poor air quality. The tunnel would carry the bigger HGVs north-bound that cannot currently use the Blackwall Tunnel, adding to pressure. Instead, critics say, lorries should be kept away from central London roads, and TfL should instead invest in public transport for south-east London.
The statutory consultation for the Silvertown Tunnel closed in December 2015, and TfL’s report is now available online here.
Public support for the scheme has fallen markedly since the previous consultation. Positive responses were 58%, down from 83% in the previous consultation. And of those who were in favour, many expressed unhappiness about the charges.
Greenwich is now the only council that favours the plan - though it would also like to see improved public transport in conjunction.
Lewisham and Hackney councils both passed motions against the Silvertown Tunnel.
Newham, Southwark, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets all expressed doubts about the proposal, over local traffic and environmental impacts.
TfL has offered to install noise and pollution barriers to protect residents in Siebert Road and Westcombe Hill – but only if the tunnel plans are approved.
TfL will commission two new boats for the Woolwich Ferry, so it will maintain that service for the foreseeable future.
What comes next?
There’s a complex planning application ahead. It will eventually be decided by the Secretary of State, as a National Strategic Infrastructure Project. But first, there’s the opportunity for the public to have a say, during an enquiry process. There are several stages:
TfL say they expect to submit the application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate this spring.
The Planning Inspectorate (PI) will have a month to make sure that all the documentation is in order.
The PI then has a three month period to collect written comments from registered members of the public, in a pre-examination stage.
During the next six months, the PI invites full responses from those who submitted earlier comments, and considers these and all the other documentation.
The PI then has three months to make its recommendation to the Secretary of State, who has three months in turn to make a decision.
And finally there is a six-week period when that decision can be challenged in the courts, using a Judicial Review.
NB: Only those who've registered will be able to make full responses.
You can register with the Planning Inspectorate for news on the Silvertown Tunnel’s planning progress here. When registration opens, you’ll be informed.
And of course, the new London mayor may well have something to say.
The Green and Liberal Democrat parties oppose the Silvertown Tunnel. And our new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has called for a review of river crossings during his campaign. Our local MP, Matt Pennycook, has also expressed his concerns. You can also write to the Greenwich GLA member, Len Duvall; to Sian Berry, Caroline Pidgeon and Caroline Russell for the Greens and LibDem;, and to Sadiq Khan, along with your ward councillors and local MP Matt Pennycook.
Local action matters. Please don't leave it to somebody else. Just look at the progress we made with the cruise terminal.