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London Tunnel Project May Be Scrapped

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A new tunnel being constructed in east London, that will link the Greenwich Peninsula with Silvertown, a district near London City Airport, aimed to help reduce traffic at the nearby Blackwell Tunnel, as well as helping support better public links, by accommodating bus journeys across the Thames, when it opens in 2025.

However, according to the Independent, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been facing calls to scrap the project over pollution concerns. Jenny Bates, from Friends of the Earth, said Mr Khan had ‘shown a willingness’ to tackle pollution and avoid a new public health crisis.

She said: “He can go a step further by scrapping the Silvertown Road Tunnel project in east London, which would worsen air pollution for some local residents if built.”

Construction on the tunnel began in 2020, with Transport for London (TfL) preparing the launch chamber for a tunnel boring machine, with plans to begin digging in spring this year, despite calls for the project to be axed.

Last summer, London Labour’s regional conference passed a motion calling on the Mayor to cancel the project. They warned it could worsen air pollution, traffic congestion and carbon emissions.

It follows announcements by Sadiq Khan of his intention to cut car journeys and transport emissions in the capital, particularly with congestion once again reaching pre-pandemic levels.

It has been suggested that a road pricing system could encourage those who drive internal combustion engine vehicles to ditch them in favour of public transport, walking, and cycling.

According to a recent report, a 27 per cent reduction in traffic in London is needed by 2030 to meet the city’s net-zero goals.

City Hall said road user charging would be a ‘simple and fair scheme’ that could replace existing fees such as the Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which has seen some drivers charged £27.50 each day when driving in London, with separate ULEZ and Congestion Charges.

One of the options on the table includes expanding the ULEZ to cover the whole of London, or charging a small fee for all but the cleanest vehicles.

The RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicolas Lyes, said: “These proposals would create massive financial challenges for individuals, families and businesses who run a car in London and even for those who visit the fringes of the capital.”

He added that we all want cleaner air and cleaner vehicles, and Khan is right to want to reduce emissions from road transport, but the new proposals could be ‘beyond the means of many’ who are unable to buy an electric car.

He highlighted research that suggested that fewer than a third of London drivers expect to make the switch to an electric car within the next five years, while ‘at the same time the Mayor himself cannot commit to a zero-emission TfL bus fleet until 2037’.

“At a time when the basic cost of living for Londoners is soaring, these proposals seem to be poorly timed, so we strongly urge the Mayor to think again instead of defaulting to extracting more money from the pockets of London’s drivers.”

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