What the Silvertown Tunnel’s approval means for major infrastructure projects

The government’s decision to grant permission for a new Thames crossing on the grounds that, while some receptors would experience a worsening in air quality as a result of the scheme, overall it would have a beneficial impact, has split legal experts. Gareth Simkins investigates

Blackwall Tunnel traffic
Traffic jams are common at the northbound entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel

The lawfulness of the government’s approval for a new tunnelled crossing under the river Thames in east London hinges on a disputed interpretation of air quality law, according to planning experts. Should the courts rule that the government has erred, freedom to undertake developments that could worsen local air quality could be seriously curtailed, commentators suggest.

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