London mayor Sadiq Khan has backed plans for a series of new Thames river crossings, including a controversial road tunnel at Silvertown, East London.
Mr Khan also gave his support to a user charge for the Silvertown crossing, despite having previously said it could be seen as ‘a tax on East and South East Londoners’.
Following a review of predecessor Boris Johnson’s plans, Mr Khan has set out a package of new river crossings to be built in the next five to 10 years in the East of the capital.
As well as confirming the Silvertown Tunnel, subject to enhancements ‘to make it greener and more public transport-focused’, the plans include accelerating a new pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Rotherhithe & Canary Wharf and a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) crossing at Gallions Reach.
The mayor’s office said further assessment would be carried out on a potential Barking Riverside-Abbey Wood London Overground crossing and a North Greenwich-Isle of Dogs ferry, supporting new development on the Greenwich Peninsula and the Isle of Dogs.
Mr Khan said: ‘With new homes and economic growth across East London, it becomes even more important that we deliver new greener transport links that allow Londoners to cross the river quickly and more easily.
‘But we don’t want these to have a damaging impact on our environment, and that’s why I’ve reviewed and improved plans for Silvertown Tunnel and why I’m pushing forward with crossings that encourage public transport, walking and cycling.’
The mayor’s office confirmed that the new tunnel, which is due to open in 2023, will be employ a user charge.
In April, when running for election, Mr Khan told Transport Network: ‘Plans as they stand for the Silvertown Tunnel do not fully take into consideration the importance of greener transport, and imposing a toll is in many people’s minds a tax on East and South East Londoners.’
A spokesperson for the mayor told Transport Network that while specific tolling levels have not yet been worked out, the Blackwall Tunnel, which is not currently tolled, will become tolled when the Silvertown Tunnel is ready. The tolling structure will be designed to manage the interaction between the two tunnels.
The mayor’s office said a new extension of the DLR from Gallions Reach towards Thamesmead would help support development of around 17,000 new homes across Newham and the Royal Borough of Greenwich in the next 10 years.
It appears that Mr Khan has dropped plans for other road crossings at Belvedere and Gallions Reach.
TfL will look to source the majority of funding for the new crossings through third-party developer contributions and via existing Community Infrastructure Levies, the mayor’s office said.
The Freight Transport Association welcomed the announcement on the Silvertown Tunnel but said it wanted to see more detail on the charging regime.
Christopher Snelling, its head of national and regional policy said: ‘Charges should not be set in favour of car users who have other options as to how to get about. Freight traffic won’t increase with more crossings as car traffic might, as the quantity of freight needing to be moved will not change.’
Bridget Fox, sustainable transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘We are extremely disappointed that the mayor has decided to press ahead with the Silvertown Tunnel, which will spread congestion and worsen already lethal air pollution. It’s doubly disappointing given his recognition of the potential of new rail and cycle crossings to link communities across the Thames.'