The proposed Silvertown Tunnel will undo improvements to air quality resulting from the expansion of the ULEZ, undermining its purpose, according to campaigners.

Stop the Silvertown Tunnel welcomed the widening of the Ultra-Low Emission Neighbourhood, which charges drivers of cars which do not comply with minimum emissions standards £12.50 on entry, to the North and South Circular roads this week.

However, the group has questioned how the construction of a £2 billion vehicle crossing, linking Silvertown and Greenwich Peninsula, is compatible with the ULEZ’s environmental aims.

Victoria Rance of the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel campaign said: “On the one hand, the Mayor of London is discouraging car travel with the expansion of the ULEZ, and on the other hand encouraging juggernauts to rattle through the streets of polluted east and south east London to get to a proposed river tunnel.

News Shopper: The path of the tunnel from Greenwich to Royal Docks (TfL)The path of the tunnel from Greenwich to Royal Docks (TfL)

“It doesn’t make sense.

"While we welcome the ULEZ and heartily support the mayor on this measure, his strategy on climate and air pollution cannot be taken seriously as long as he insists on pushing ahead with the Silvertown Tunnel project.”

Sadiq Khan has stated his desire to deliver cleaner air for Londoners, which he sees as a matter of “social justice”.

The ULEZ has operated since April 2019, but previously only covered the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge.

The charge applies all day, every day, except on Christmas Day, and whether or not a vehicle is liable for London's charge depends on how much nitrogen dioxide (NO2) it emits.

NO2 damages lungs and can exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma, and lung and heart disease.

The mayor has claimed that, by motivating drivers to use their cars less or change to a less polluting vehicle, a 30 per cent reduction in NO2 levels could be achieved by the expansion.

Campaigners against the Silvertown Tunnel claim TfL’s own figures suggest the project will send “more than 20,000 new cars and vans and HGVs every day into Newham” and “add to congestion and pollution on the A102 through Greenwich and Lewisham.”

“Newham is the most polluted borough in London, and as City Hall discovered just last month, it already has the most polluted schools,” Victoria Rance added.

“Parents in south east London are terrified of the effects of pollution on their children’s health.

“Climate scientists, transport experts and senior politicians agree the £2bn infrastructure project at Silvertown will worsen air pollution in London and lock in high carbon transport for generations just at the time when we are calling on others to make much greater commitments to lowering carbon emissions.

"The ULEZ is not enough.”

Transport for London has been approached for comment.

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