'Spin' accusation as support for Silvertown Tunnel falls


Support for the proposed Silvertown Tunnel under the Thames has fallen significantly, although Transport for London (TfL) has failed to publish the full response to its consultation last Autumn.

The East London road tunnel scheme will mean user charging at both itself and the existing Blackwall Tunnel. TfL has disclosed that support now stands at 58%.

It said this level of support is ‘still high’, however in its previous consultation in late 2014, 83% of respondents agreed that a new crossing was needed, although only 37% supported a user charge, with 57% against.

Sian Berry, Green Party candidate for mayor of London, said: ‘Even with the positive spin that TfL has put on its last consultation – with utopian visualisations featuring relaxed drivers on empty roads – it's clear that public support for the Silvertown Tunnel is dwindling.

'More and more people on both sides of the river are realising that new roads always mean more traffic and a new road tunnel will mean more congestion and pollution not less. The next mayor can still axe this project and that's exactly what I will do if I'm elected on May 5.’

The tunnel will follow the route of the cable car

She added: ‘Londoners on the eastern side of the capital do indeed want more rivers crossings, but let's spend the billions on good public transport infrastructure, not ever more roads to clog our city still further and make our lethal air pollution even worse.’

Although TfL’s recent statutory consultation on the tunnel closed last November, it has so far only published a brief summary of responses.

A report put to its Board, which backed the plans last month, only set out headline figures and broad themes from the consultation.

TfL has however published the full report of a consultation that ended last month on two other proposed river crossings in East London, at Belvedere and Gallions Reach.

It said that consultation showed 77% of respondents support new crossings – which could be tunnels or bridges – at both locations. But support for the plans among ‘stakeholders’ was significantly lower, with only 52% in favour and 32% opposed.

A TfL spokesperson told Transport Network that the Silvertown consultation report will be published ‘in due course’ and will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in the Spring.

He said: ‘Although the top-line results of the Silvertown Tunnel consultation are fully known, we are still currently going through all the individual responses to ensure that any concerns, and how we hope to address them, are reflected in the report. Once it is finalised, we will publish the full consultation report.’

The Silvertown scheme has been designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, which means that it can only be authorised by a Development Consent Order (DCO) made by the relevant secretary of state.

TfL is now preparing the application for a DCO and says that if this is successful a public hearing can take place later this year. If given the full go ahead, construction of the tunnel could begin in 2019 and be completed by 2023.

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