Mayor of London pressured to scrap tunnel

8 September 2020

The Labour Party has called on Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, to urgently review plans for the proposed £1.2bn (US$1.55bn) Silvertown road tunnel in East London.

The tunnel has come under heavy fire in recent months, particularly from environmental groups, who argue that it is incompatible with London’s plan to become carbon-neutral by 2030. The project is also opposed by climate scientists and many local residents who are concerned that the tunnel will increase greenhouse gases and contribute further to toxic air pollution for local communities.

MPs are instead demanding significant investment in green transport links, including the adaptation of existing transport, rather than wholesale road- and rail-building projects.

Labour MP Matthew Pennycook urged Khan to think again, arguing there was still time to reverse the decision as main construction work had not yet started. He added that it was possible the project’s viability might be reassessed in the light of Transport for London (TfL) finances which have been hit heavily by the coronavirus lockdown.

The Silvertown tunnel is planned to be a 1.4km twin-bore construction with double lanes running beneath the River Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown. Before lockdown, the project was due to start in 2020, opening in 2025.

TfL awarded the scheme in November 2019 to the RiverLinx consortium on a design, build, finance, operate and maintain concession. This included various shareholders plus the firms that will design and construct the tunnel: BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman and SK E&C of Korea. Wayss and Freytag are also to provide tunnelling expertise.