A group of Greenwich residents and Extinction Rebellion climate activists have staged a ‘die-in’ at City Hall to launch a new protest against the Mayor’s plans to build a road tunnel between Silvertown and Greenwich Peninsula.
The residents also handed the Mayor a letter signed by sixteen local Nursery, Primary and Secondary School Head Teachers and over 250 parents, children and local people who oppose the plans, alongside campaigners such as Jemima Hartshorn of Mums for Lungs.
Local resident Karen Janody said “The Mayor has declared a climate emergency, and he has been vocal about the need to clean up London’s polluted air. We must rethink what is needed for the wellbeing of our children. Offsetting and mitigation is not sufficient. To halt increasing respiratory illnesses and climate change we have to reduce motor traffic in London by 80% by 2030.”
Victoria Rance mother of three explained “We believe that the Mayor really cares about children’s developing lungs and brains, so we want him taking action to reduce HGV traffic. But this scheme encourages it. This new tunnel is deliberately designed to allow larger, heavier, more polluting HGVs to re-route through South East London, near where children live, play and go to school. ”
“Even if you think London needs new river crossings, this is illogical,” she added. “TfL’s own figures show that if the new capacity created by the tunnel is used, traffic goes up. Pollution and congestion would then rise across Greenwich and South-East London. In response they’ve decided to set the toll so high that drivers won’t use the new capacity they’ve built! So, according to the Mayor’s plans, residents of Greenwich and Lewisham are going to spend the next 50 years paying for the new crossing plus use of the existing Blackwall tunnel that, effectively, they are being discouraged from using.”
Greenwich father of two Matt Stratford said “We want an assessment of the effects on our air quality. And we know from a recent Freedom of Information request that the initial evaluation of options and value-for-money calculation in this scheme were also not competently done. We understand TfL decided not to admit this.” He continued: “We are certain that if the Mayor looks again at the Silvertown Tunnel scheme, he will decide that it’s better to invest the £1bn in projects that move London towards a clean zero-emissions future, such as electric buses, safer cycling, and smart road pricing”
Transport for London intends to sign the contract for the PFI project to build, run and maintain the Silvertown Tunnel this summer. Building the project has an estimated cost of nearly £1bn and will emit 153,000 tonnes of CO2, according to TfL’s figures. The project will be paid for with tolls on motorists using the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels, and, according to current plans, will be completed in 2024.