New London mayor Sadiq Khan will ‘review the merits’ of the Silvertown Tunnel project, particularly user charging, in parallel with the statutory planning process.
The route of the proposed Tunnel across the Thames
Last month, during the election campaign Mr Khan told Transport Network that tolls on the proposed tunnel under the Thames were 'in many people's minds a tax on East and South East Londoners’.
A spokesperson for the new mayor said he would now ‘review the merits of the Silvertown Tunnel alongside a six month public examination of the scheme, which is expected to begin as part of the planning process later this year’.
The forthcoming public examination follows an application by Transport for London (TfL) for a Development Consent Order (DCO) just before this month’s election.
TfL’s plans for the new tunnel rely on user charging at both Silvertown and the existing Blackwall Tunnel to counter any increase in traffic levels.
Speaking at mayor’s Question Time on Wednesday, Mr Khan said that the process of applying for a DCO ‘does not preclude reviewing the details of the scheme, such as charge levels’.
He acknowledged concerns that the tunnel could increase traffic levels, but added: ‘I am determined to ensure that any user charges for the Silvertown Tunnel are fair and also encourage the take-up of the cleanest vehicles.’
The mayor said long-term plans for river crossings in the capital would be addressed through the development of his new transport strategy.
Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russell criticised the mayor’s approach. She pointed out that last month he told Transport Network: ‘We need a proper joined up review, looking at river crossings and improved public transport connections east of Tower Bridge, but in a strategic fashion, not piecemeal like the current mayor.’
Ms Russell said: ‘It is very disappointing that the mayor wants to push ahead with the hugely damaging Silvertown Tunnel. Sadiq Khan‘s river crossings review will be a sham if he lets plans for this major crossing reach an advanced stage.’
As part of the DCO application, TfL submitted the previously unpublished report of its public consultation last autumn. The Planning Inspectorate has now published this report.
As Transport Network reported in March, the report showed that support for the tunnel had fallen to 58%, compared to 83% a year earlier.