The Silvertown Tunnel

The proposed Silvertown Tunnel is a four lane road link between Newham’s Royal Docks and the Greenwich Peninsula. The required land in Newham was purchased by TfL years ago, before any formal planning proposal was submitted.

The scheme entered the planning stage in October 2015 and a decision is expected in late-2017.stunnel

The case against:

  • TfL expects traffic levels to increase by more than a third on major roads across Newham with Silvertown and Canning Town the worst hit.
  • More traffic means poorer air quality. Newham residents already suffer the impact of some of the highest levels of air pollution in London.
  • The tunnel will bring many more HGVs into East London, endangering pedestrians and people on bikes.
  • The earliest possible completion date is 2022/23.
  • The Silvertown Tunnel is expected to cost at least £1 billion.
  • The tunnel will be tolled, and a toll will also be introduced at Blackwall Tunnel. Whilst West London river crossings will remain free to use – and as those are all bridges, not tunnels, they are available to pedestrians and cyclists too!
  • Greenwich Green Party are also concerned about the traffic congestion and air pollution increases this tunnel would cause south of the river. The Woolwich Road flyover is already one of the most polluted spots in London.  Furthermore, it will also make existing bottlenecks at Kidbrooke and Eltham – where the A102 and A2 have only two lanes in each direction – worse.
  • The tunnel will be financed using Public Private Finance Initiatives – essentially a expensive loan from a private company who also builds the infrastructure. These have crippled the NHS and schools with debt.

The Silvertown/Royal Docks area is already heavily over-polluted, from both the airport and existing building works, we feel TfL’s proposal doesn’t give this harmful impact on local residents and businesses enough consideration. We held an townhall-style event in Britannia Village, near the proposed tunnel’s entrance. Understandably, local residents were angry and felt unheard in the process. Many would prefer a bridge, while others didn’t want any river crossing in the area – as their community was being fractured by all the other approved developments.

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In addition to the negative health and infrastructure impacts, this project unfairly targets East Londoners to pay for the privilege of crossing the river, with the introduction of the proposed tolls.

TfL’s proposal claims the tolls are to aid with congestion reduction – but this could, and should, have been thorough trialled at the existing tunnel before public funds are committed to building such an expensive and polluting new tunnel.

It’s also confusing that TfL highlights the continuing need to reduce congestion on these routes, when the argument for building the Silvertown Tunnel was initially to relieve congestion at Blackwall. Is this new tunnel not fit for purpose? Or are the tolls really more about providing a guaranteed revenue stream for the private-partnership funders?

“The Mayor of London is loudly promoting a £750 million Silvertown Tunnel between the Royal Docks and the Greenwich peninsular as the solution to congestion on east London’s roads.

But a simple investigation of the facts shows this scheme to be expensive, unnecessary and dangerous.

TfL admit the only way to stop a tidal wave of extra traffic flooding roads across east London would be to impose toll charges. Motorists would pay around £2.50 to cross the Thames using either the new tunnel or the old Blackwall Tunnel which is currently free.”

Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly Member in 2014 , challenged in a Big Debate piece in the Newham Recorder against Newham Councillor Ken Clark, who claimed that “A Gallions bridge and the Silvertown tunnel would reduce the congestion we see in Newham”, without any details on how, or indeed IF, local infrastructure would be improved to deal with the extra traffic these crossings would generate.

Newham has one of the lowest levels of car ownership in London with two thirds of residents commuting by public transport. Newham Green Party believes that residents should have the choice to cross the river on foot or by bike. We welcome new north-south public transport links that would take the strain off current routes.

Caroline Russell, one of Green Party’s London Assembly Members, has also criticised the scheme. She says:

“I will continue to support local people to fight this road tunnel through the planning process and at City Hall I will hold the Mayor to account for his decision to progress this scheme.”

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Caroline Russel and Sian Berry protesting near the proposed tunnel’s entrance

In a recent announcement, Mayor Sadiq Khan attempted to greenwash the project by announcing that buses services through the tunnel would have space for bikes. The Mayor’s support for the Silvertown Tunnel is utterly incompatible with his commitment to reduce air pollution in London.

The Green Party, with locals on both sides of the river, are not the only group campaigning against the tunnel – Hackney, Lewisham and Southwark Councils coming out against it in 2015, and Newham Council in 2016 – after having initially supported it. Greenwich Council gave their support via formal feedback in the second stage of the consultation (Nov. 2015).

There is also an independent group, called No to Silvertown Tunnel, who you can follow on Twitter @NoSilvertownTnl

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We’re taking part in the public consultation – several members have responded independently with their views, but we are also preparing an official response from the Newham branch of the party, and welcome feedback from local residents and/or businesses, if they would like it included. Closing date for this final feedback to the consultation is 15th November 2016, therefore we ask for all feedback you would like us to include to be submitted to us by 5pm on Friday 11th November, either in the comments or by email.

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Siân Berry launches the Greens’ East London manifesto

Friday saw the official launch of the Green Party manifesto for East London (pdf), ahead of the Mayoral and London Assembly elections on Thursday 5th May. Support for Green policies is at an all-time high, with a particularly strong presence in East London, and we are aiming to increase the numbers of Greens on the London Assembly from the current two.

Green Party Mayoral candidate, Siân Berry, and local candidate, Rachel Collinson, were joined by local Green Party members outside of the proposed Bishopsgate Goodsyard site.

EL Manifesto Group

Rachel Collinson, who is also the Newham Green Party Chair, said: “The Bishopsgate Goodsyard development controversy perfectly illustrates what is wrong with London’s urban planning system. Boris Johnson has repeatedly ignored the wishes of local residents and Councils. The Green Party’s Jenny Jones AM challenged the Mayor on the decision, and it has now been deferred until after the Mayoral election!

R&S“The Green Party have a strong record of supporting communities, and holding those in power to account. If elected to the assembly I will work with residents to ensure local concerns continue to be heard.”

The Green Party have already highlighted their flagship policies on housing, transport, policing, the living wage and air pollution during this campaign. The manifesto provides more detail on each of these areas and gives examples of what Siân a Green Mayor and Green London Assembly Members would do for East London. Such as…

200,000 new homes across London, for ALL Londoners – with 50% to be built by smaller developers, communities and housing associations to provide truly affordable housing across the city. In East London the party will take a stand against the proliferation of luxury developments for the super-wealthy, such as Bishopsgate Goodsyard and the Newham Council Masterplan to replace the social Carpenter’s Estate with private developer blocks, and fight for the development of genuinely affordable housing for Londoners.

Celebrating and supporting London’s diversity – including rethinking the flawed and discriminatory Prevent strategy, creating a new City Hall position for monitoring policy impacts on London’s older residents, and making sure London remains a leader in LGBT+ rights and culture.

Ending the air pollution crisis – bringing pollution below legal limits by 2020 at the latest. In East London, we will continue to resist the proposed Enderby Wharf Cruise Terminal in Greenwich and the Silvertown Tunnel at Blackwall which would increase pollution across several boroughs that are already dangerously polluted. Also, we’d close London City Airport and use the land for homes and up to 16,000 more jobs.

The London Living Wage for all – currently one in five working Londoners are still paid less, many of whom live in Newham and surrounding boroughs. Siân also pledges to create 150,000 high­ quality apprenticeships, and improving conditions and opportunities for part-time workers.

This comes just a week after Siân and Rachel were joined by fellow Green Party candidates Shahrar Ali and Benali Hamdache to launch the Manifesto for Londoners from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds (pdf) in Newham’s Queens Market.

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Tackling air pollution

We currently have a campaign to tackle air pollution across Newham. 
This blogpost summarises why we think this is important, and what we plan to do about it.

What is air pollution?

There are many pollutants which contribute to air pollution(more information can be found here). The biggest threat to clean air these days is traffic emissions. Petrol and diesel-engined vehicles emit a variety of pollutants, principally carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM10).

What are the consequences of air pollution?

Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett said:

Air pollution causes 29,000 early deaths a year in the UK and it’s a disgrace that the Coalition government have largely neglected this worsening problem. There has been far too little action from authorities despite 15 years of warnings and several extensions and postponements granted to the government”

There is good evidence that air pollution has consequences forhuman health. Specifically, the following groups are more likely to be affected by air pollution:

  • Adults and children with heart or lung conditions
  • Older people
  • Children

However, if the levels are particularly high it can affect the general population. The health impact will be worse if a) there are high levels of air pollution and b) people are exposed over a long time period.

So, what do we know about air pollution across Newham?

In 2001 Newham Borough Council (NBC) confirmed that some areas close to major roads were exceeding levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM10. These findings required NBC to declare an Air Quality Management Area, which they did in March 2003 – and they produced an action plan.

NBC produced a progress report in 2008, which confirmed that NO2 levels were still higher than target levels (annual average and hourly measurements).

What do we want to do in Newham?

  • Measure air pollution level across Newham
  • Raise awareness where high levels of air pollution exist
  • Promote green solutions to reduce air pollution

We’re planning to start a citizen science project soon. This will require us to identify community areas of concern, measure the air pollution using diffuser tubes, and share the results with the community.  We will be sure to update the blog with further details as we progress.

For information on The Green Party’s policies on pollution, click here.