Sadiq Khan has been accused of hypocrisy by campaigners against the Silvertown Tunnel, after warning that the capital is facing “filthy air and gridlocked roads”.

Figures released by City Hall yesterday revealed that car usage was close to pre-pandemic levels for much of the second half of 2021, while bus and tube ridership figures lag at 70 per cent and 55 per cent of what they were before March 2020.

The mayor cautioned that a failure “to deliver a greener, more sustainable future we will replace one public health crisis with another”.

Campaigners have questioned how the construction of a £2 billion vehicle crossing, linking Silvertown and Greenwich Peninsula, will help reduce car usage or pollution.

News Shopper: How the Silvertown Tunnel could look (TfL)How the Silvertown Tunnel could look (TfL)

A spokesperson for Stop Silvertown Tunnel said: “We agree with the Mayor of London that ‘most traffic is caused simply by there being too great a demand for limited street space’ and that ‘the only long-term solution can be to significantly reduce car use in favour of greener means of travel.’

“So, it’s nothing but hypocrisy that by far the mayor’s biggest spending in London is on a new motorway Tunnel with HGV lanes and with no access for pedestrians, cyclists and cargo bikes.

“The Silvertown Tunnel will increase congestion and dangerous juggernauts by homes and schools in residential Greenwich and Newham, the most polluted borough in London.

“And the eye-watering £2.2bn it costs could pay for five active travel river crossings instead.”

Sadiq Khan has repeatedly expressed a desire to deliver cleaner air for Londoners, championing policies such as recent expansion of the ULEZ to the north and south circular roads.

Supporters of the project argue Silvertown will reduce congestion at the Blackwall tunnel and that the introduction of tolls at both will prevent an overall increase in traffic.

Campaigners hold the view that the building of a major road will inevitably create more traffic and, consequently, pollution.

Stop 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.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor is taking some of the boldest action of any city in the world to tackle air pollution.

"This includes the central London ULEZ which has helped cut nitrogen dioxide in central London by nearly half.

"The newly expanded ULEZ – which includes the Silvertown area – will extend these benefits to millions of Londoners, both inside and outside the zone. 

“Anyone who has been caught in traffic due to a problem in the Victorian-era Blackwall Tunnel will know that there is an urgent need for another river crossing in this part of London.

"The tunnel is closed an average of 600 times a year with a five-minute closure leading to a three-mile tailback of cars, vans and buses with idling engines emitting toxic pollutants into London’s air and causing congestion further afield.

"Extensive modelling shows that the introduction of tolls on both tunnels at Silvertown and Blackwall will mean no increase in traffic and an improvement in air quality."

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