Prime minister and TfL accused of climate 'censorship' on Silvertown

 

Transport for London (TfL) has been accused of burying climate change and pollution issues during the Silvertown Tunnel approval process, in breach of promises made by prime minister Boris Johnson.  

As London mayor, Mr Johnson pledged that carbon dioxide emissions would be a key planning consideration when deciding whether to go forward with the £1bn tunnel.

However his administration then lobbied to downgrade the importance of the carbon factors, giving them little space or prominence in a key planning report.

The discovery has prompted angry reactions from climate campaigners.

Dr Andrew Boswell, a ‘climate emergency consultant’, told Transport Network: 'It is absolutely outrageous that under Mayor Boris Johnson, TfL lobbied the Planning Inpectorate to take traffic carbon emissions out of the Environmental Statement, especially as he committed to the London Assembly that carbon emissions would be fully investigated.'

”Local

He added: ‘The most important issue of our time was effectively censored from the Inquiry.’

Mr Johnson told the London Assembly in 2014: ‘TfL will include extensive environmental impact data and an Environmental Statement in its Development Consent Order (DCO) application to the Planning Inspectorate, who will assess the scheme in accordance with the relevant planning policies.’

However TfL downgraded important climatic analysis from its Environmental Statement on the tunnel.

In a scoping report for its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), TfL revealed that the ES would not include its include its own  'separate climatic factors topic', instead carbon would be subsumed under the ‘Air Quality’ heading. The Planning Inspectorate, on behalf of the transport secretary, agreed to this.

As a result, the (2016) ES gave only a brief account of the estimated carbon dioxide across TfL’s whole road network, both with and without the tunnel, in both its scheduled opening year (2021) and 15 years later (2036).

A separate Energy and Carbon statement estimated a short-term beneficial impact on carbon emissions from building the tunnel, resulting in a decrease of 3,000 tonnes per year of CO2 emissions in 2021 if the tunnel is build compared to doing nothing.

It also estimated 'an increase of 23,000 tonnes per year of CO2 for the design year 2036 (15 years after opening the Scheme’.

Officials added: ‘The annual road transport emissions for the Greater London Area (GLA) are projected to be 5,728,930 [tonnes] CO2 in 2030 according to the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (LAEI) 201330 data.

'Therefore the calculated increases in the do-something scenario for 2036 are roughly equivalent to 0.4% of the GLA’s projected road transport emissions.’

Neither document set out the full assumptions on which the modelling was based, although both cited the planned user charge for the tunnel as a mitigation measure, to dampen traffic demand.

Another document, the Charging Policies and Procedures, states that TfL assessed ‘a range of user charging scenarios’ for when the scheme opened. 

Charges such as £1 per car or van off peak or £3 during peak hours were used to produce the estimates of traffic and emissions levels in 2021. The document notes that all charges would need to be kept under review.

Asked what level of charge was used to calculate 2036 emissions levels, a TfL spokesperson told Transport Network: ‘We assumed that the charge would be constant in real terms (so just increasing with RPI [inflation]) which when modelled showed it would be appropriate.’

The spokesperson said: ‘A number of assumptions were made in the assessment work as part of our DCO submission for the Silvertown Tunnel. The carbon assessment was based on the outputs of our traffic model and Defra’s Emission Factor Toolkit, which provides assumptions around the emissions of the current and predicted traffic fleet.’

Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, described the scheme as ‘a massively expensive congestion re-distribution project’

She told Transport Network: ‘The mayor has declared a climate emergency in London, and traffic levels urgently need to be cut to address this. Building this outdated four lane road scheme would at best, if TfL's assumptions and assurances are accepted, just maintain the status quo on traffic levels. It must be scrapped.

‘The Silvertown Tunnel is not designed to help solve the capital's air pollution health crisis. It would lead to some people, with air pollution already over legal limits, breathing even more polluted air.'

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Senior Engineer (Development Control)

Wrexham County Borough Council
£36,876 - £39,782 per annum
We are looking to appoint a suitably experienced and qualified candidate to work within the Contracts and Engineering team Wrexham (Wrecsam)
Recuriter: Wrexham County Borough Council

Strategic Director Growth and Regeneration

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Strategic Director Environment and Climate Change

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Funeral Operative (As and When)

Brent Council
£24,462 - £26,274 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
The person will not need previous experience in funeral services as full training will be given but experience would be an advantage. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Senior Engineer – Transport Policy

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£38,800 - £52,600
This is an exciting opportunity to improve road safety and create healthy streets in a busy and dynamic central London borough. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Environmental Health Officer / Health and Safety Practitioner

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£33,600 - £45,400 per annum plus performance related pay
The ideal candidate will have a detailed knowledge/understanding of Health and Safety legislation.  Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Head of Operations

Rossendale Borough Council
£49,408 - £52,899
The Head of Operations is a key leader in the Senior Management Team. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recuriter: Rossendale Borough Council

Commercial Officer

Rossendale Borough Council
£25,801 - £29,636
We are keen to improve our recycling levels, tackle the climate change agenda and take pride in our open spaces. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recuriter: Rossendale Borough Council

Principal Electrical Asset Officer

Birmingham City Council
£34,788-£42,683
The role requires the post holder to be a key technical specialist for the Authority’s Highways Electrical Asset Management function, providing... Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Transport Planning Officer 

Plymouth City Council
£32,878 - £42,683
This is a full time position (37 hours per week) with flexible working arrangements. Plymouth, Devon
Recuriter: Plymouth City Council

Highways & Drainage Team Manager

Newport City Council
£37,849 - £40,760
You will be skilled at analysing multiple sources of information, making excellent decisions, and driving difficult situations towards a... Newport (Casnewydd)
Recuriter: Newport City Council

Senior Environmental Health Officer (Housing Lead)

Mole Valley District Council
£37,821 - £42,329
An exciting opportunity for a Senior Environmental Health Officer to join our forward thinking Environmental Health Partnership Oxted, Surrey
Recuriter: Mole Valley District Council

Street Works Compliance Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
For further information on the role please click. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Sustainability & Resilience Officer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £34017 per annum
This opportunity is to be offered on a 6-month, fixed term / secondment contract basisInterviews scheduled to be held Friday 17th April Job Purpose Es England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Highway Electrical Maintenance & Installation Operative (Street Lighting) Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Civil Engineering Technician Apprentice x 3

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Safety, Health & Environment Technician Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Strategic Director, Environment & Regeneration

Brent Council
Circa £155,000
Brent is the Borough of Cultures - the most diverse in London - and as a Council we believe in delivering for our communities. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Street Cleansing Operative x6

Redbridge London Borough Council
£20,466.00 - £20,835.00
This role will involve working as an individual as well as part of a team, litter pick the streets in the local area, empty the litter bins. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Assistant Engineer - Grade 3

Northumberland County Council
£27,905 - £31,371
Assistant Engineer (Structures) - Band 7 (SCP 24-28) The Council Northumberland County Council operates a huge range of services across one of the ... County Hall, Morpeth
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council