Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has broken his silence over Silvertown Tunnel and appeared to distance himself from plans to build the companion road link to Blackwall.
While not exactly stating his opposition he did pour cold water on some aspects of the scheme. He said, for example, that tolling could be seen as a “tax of east and south east Londoners” and that the current plans “do not fully take into consideration the importance of greener transport”.
Tolling is an important part of the Silvertown scheme, not only to raise money, but to act as a restraint on traffic. At the same time Blackwall, and all other east London river crossings, would be tolled to manage demand in current plans.
Mr Khan has been noticeably reticent in stating outright opposition or support for the scheme, which is controversial because road building would imply more traffic and more air pollution. TfL argues that keeping traffic moving actually reduces pollution levels.
Mr Khan’s main rival, Tory Zac Goldsmith, has put the Silvertown Tunnel in his manifesto, saying it is essential to unlock growth in the east. However, Mr Goldsmith did say that he would use the tolls to encourage cleaner cars.
Mr Khan told Transport Network: “We need a proper joined up review, looking at river crossings and improved public transport connections east of Tower Bridge, but in a strategic fashion, not piecemeal like the current mayor.”
The Lib Dems’ Caroline Pidgeon and Green Party candidate Sian Berry have stated their opposition to the tunnel.
Sian Berry said: “Campaigners can claim a small victory in getting Sadiq to finally call for a review of TfL’s approach to road building. But he needs to come clean about whether he’d build the tunnel at all, and if he doesn’t favour tolls how will he pay for it?
“Building the Silvertown Tunnel without tolling would inevitably cause chaos, congestion and worsening illegal pollution across a wide area.
“The tolls are Transport for London’s fig leaf which allows them to falsely claim they are keeping a firm lid on traffic and pollution. Sadiq must be aware that if you take way the tolls, then the Silvertown Tunnel has zero chance of getting planning permission and his review will show that.
“Greens would cancel TfL’s big road building programme and put the money into better public transport, walking and cycling links, like the footbridge from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf.”